Wednesday, July 25, 2007

25.07.07 London, England

Hello again everyone! Sorry about the hiatus this past week! I figure most of you are being updated through my mom's emails...I should just post those up here! We've had a fabulous time here in London, all 3 of us (me, my mom, Justin)....though I cannot speak for the other two, I'm very anxious and looking forward to getting home on Friday! 6 weeks is much much too long for me to be away! I'm looking forward to the strangest doing laundry....this can't be healthy. Anyway, I most likely won't be writing again until I get home, but when I do write next, I'll be sure to post lots of pictures! Love you all! See you all soon!!! (except maybe Lacey and the fam....that may be a while yet :( ).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

17.07.07 Dublin, Ireland (in a hotel!!!)

My mom arrived safe and sound (if incredibly exhausted) this morning! I met her at the airport, we had a nice ride back into the city centre. We did just a little bit of walking, she was running out of steam pretty quickly, so we headed over to the hostel to pick up mine and Katherine's backpacks...we then took a cab back up to our hotel. It was very nice. The hotel we're staying is absolutely heavenly compared to everywhere I've stayed in the past 5 weeks! So crazy!

We went literally about 2 doors down the street for dinner, and had delicious fish and chips, and homeade (free!) soup and bread before the meal! It was delicious! It started raining constantly again today, just in time for my mom to get here, of course! Although I'm sure she'll enjoy it seeing as the entire state of Utah is on fire!

I'm off to the hotel to shower and sleep for a while now, take care, and love you all!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

15.07.07 Dublin, Ireland

So, it just figures with my luck, that as soon as I bought that cute jacket, it warmed up!! Damned weather! Oh well, apparently its supposed to start raining and being chilly again at the very least by the time we get to London! Anyway, yesterday was relatively uneventful, I had planned on visiting the National Museum, however when I got there, it was closed indefinitely for repairs or something. Not cool. No worries though! I wandered some more, something I'm getting very good at (as you may be able to tell!).

Though I haven't really done too much sightseeing while I've been here, there is a reason behind it. I am scouting things out to do with my mom when she gets here Tuesday. We're planning to see St. Patrick's Cathedral, Christchurch Cathedral, and Trinity College and the Book of Kells....those are the main, big touristy things here. Other than that, I've got some fabulous wandering routes scouted out! I hope you're excited mom!

Today I went to the National Museum of Archeology and History. The coolest exhibit is that of the "Bog People". I don't remember if I mentioned this before or not, but just a few years ago they discovered almost mummified remains of ancient people of Ireland who were preserved amazingly well in the bogs in which they were buried. It was a very cool and interesting exhibit....if a little bit gross....the skin was very noticeably leathery. Interesting how amazingly bodies can be preserved though! With skin and hair still on them!

After that I wandered back to the hostel for a bit, and I've really just been taking it easy here. I'm trying to rest up before the blitz of the last week and a half of this trip. I have one more day of rest and leisure, then the pace picks back up again, and I can't wait! Love you all!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Great News!!!

Great news! Justin got his passport yesterday (yes in only a month!) so he is for sure coming to London next Friday to spend the week with us! I can't wait!! London will be amazing!!

I'll write more soon, just had to spread my super good news....can you tell I'm excited?

Friday, July 13, 2007

13.07.07 Dublin, Ireland

Hello again from Dublin!! I've had 2 full days here now, and its been wonderful!! Yesterday I basically just explored the neighborhood I'm staying in now, and then the one we'll be in when my mom gets here on Tuesday (which I'm very excited for!!). Temple Bar is a very hip, fun district, where we are now...just down the street from Trinity College (where Katherine is researching) and right across the street from Christ Church Cathedral. Its a beautiful city....what is crazy though, is that the rain is a constant drizzle. Which really doesn't sound all that bad, and at first its not. Then once you're out in it for over about 30-45 minutes, you realize you're completely drenched....not good...especially when I definitely did not come prepared for cold, rainy weather.

Good news gave me an excuse to buy the adorable blue coat I saw this morning in a shop! I needed it!! I was drenched! all know me well enough to know that it really didn't take that much convincing for me to buy the coat. But I'm definitely glad I did. That combined with the adorable hat I got in....I think it was Paris...anyway, tomorrow I plan to be at least a bit warmer and dryer than I was today!

Today I walked down Grafton Street towards St. Stephen's Green, and then across to where the National Gallery is. There were some wonderful works of art there, some fabulously less well known Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Poussin, Boucher, etc.
And I found a lovely little cafe for lunch...I had a tomato, mozzarella and pesto pannini sandwich and probably the best cafe mocha I've ever had. It had chocolate shavings on top! So yummy!!

Tonight we met Katherine's professor for dinner, got some sandwiches at subway and sat on the banks of the Liffey while we ate. We had a great time, with great conversation....all in all I've had a wonderful couple of days! Hopefully the next few will be just as fabulous!! Love you all!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

11.07.07 Dublin, Ireland

Finally we made it to Ireland!!!! I really can hardly believe that I'm actually here. As some of you know, this has always been one of my life goals to come here to dream vacation that I've wanted to take ever since I was about 11 or 12 and did my country report on Ireland.

First I'll start with Edinburgh though. Yesterday we wandered quite a bit, and the town itself is really quite gorgeous. We found a Marks and Spencer *(a department/grocery store) and bought some fabulous ready made sandwiches (I really hate that we don't have quality ready made sandwiches and salads at home....they're cheap and healthy and very tasty!) and crossed the street to a park where we sat overlooking a gorge with the Edinburgh castle atop a hill at one end. So beautiful!

After that we went in to the National Gallery of Scotland, which is wonderful, because all the museums here are free! There was some amazing work from the Romantic period, which I studied in a class just last semester, so it was amazing to see so much of what I studied and wrote about not very long ago. There were some wonderful works by Poussin, and Boucher especially.

As we walked along the Royal Mile, we found a meeting place for an underground "ghost tour". We ended up going on it, and it turned out to be quite fun. The guide was in costume and provided a great history. We walked a bit through the old city, then went down into some of the vaults. They were apparently inhabited by ghosts. It really was quite unsettling right up until the super hokey ending where a cloaked man jumped in front of the entrance to one of the vaults we were in. It was a really lame and somewhat disappointing ending. Before that happened I felt fairly unsettled, but that completely ruined it. Oh well, what can you do? One of the really cool things we saw was a working Wiccan temple in one of the vaults. It was very interesting and super cool to see it all.

So, this morning we wandered a bit more and found Waterstone's....a wonderful bookstore, much like Barnes and Noble. We spent quite a while in there, just browsing, and sitting in the Starbucks cafe. It felt like home!

Dublin is wonderful so far....and definitely very green and wet. I'll write again soon!! Keep in touch!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

10.07.07 Edinburgh, Scotland

Here I am in Edinburgh....We just got in so we haven't had really any chance to explore quite yet. The Scottish countryside is quite beautiful though. I really loved it, its so green and....really just what you might think of. We took the train from Glasgow here, and it was a very short trip, less than an hour, actually. The hostel we're staying in here is called "Caledonian Backpackers" and its a very funky place. We have a 38 bed dorm room, which is slightly reminiscent of the types of photos you see of shelters that are set up in gymnasiums after a hurricane or tornado. Though it is much cooler with random funky murals all over the walls. And lockers scattered throughout the room as well!!

I am very much looking forward to getting into Dublin tomorrow, since, once I'm there, I have 10 days without much travel! The only time I have to load up my backpack again will be to move it to the hotel we're moving to when my Mom gets here. And at that point there will be an extra bag for me to redistribute some of the weight! So crazy....I really haven't bought all that much, but today my backpack was really getting to me....of course that could have been the fact that we had to hike uphill to the train station. Did I mention that Glasgow reminds me of San Francisco, with all its hills? So insane!

I am glad to be here, and sad that I don't have more time here in Scotland, but oh well....on another trip!

I'll write again soon, take care! Love you all!

Monday, July 09, 2007

09.07.07 Glasgow, Scotland

Hello from Glasgow! I finally made it to Scotland. We arrived last night at about 11:45 pm. Caught the last bus into Glasgow at midnight and after a bit of wandering the streets of Glasgow in the middle of the night we made it to our hostel and collapsed into bed by about 1:30. Not too bad really! I was very impressed with us. Today we split up to wander the town. I went to the Glasgow Cathedral which is absolutely beautiful. I walked nearly everywhere in the city center before heading back here to meet up again for dinner. It really is beautiful here, and even though I really wish I had more time to spend here in Scotland, I am definitely looking forward to getting to Dublin on Wednesday and staying put until mom comes! I cannot wait!

Take to you all!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

07.07.07 Paris, France

Hello again from Paris! I know its been a couple of days since I've written, but things are going well here! Two days ago I got up, had breakfast here in the hotel, then ventured out and took the metro down to the area where my mom and I stayed a year ago when we were here. I wandered the Rue de Rivoli a bit, then decided I would go to the Musee d'Orsay. I got there and it was a long line, as usual, but I waited through it (I was very glad, I'd brought the book I was reading which was Dubliners by James Joyce...fabulous book, which I finished yesterday....anyway, it made the time go by very quickly). I finally got into the museum and I was SO glad that I'd braved the crowds and the insane weather (it was warm then freezing cold and rainy!!!).

The Musee d'Orsay is definitely one of my all time favorite museums now. It is FABULOUS! It has nearly all of my favorite artists all in one place. It really was overwhelming, the magnitude of masterpieces within the walls of this building! I paid €7 to get into the museum, plus the special exhibition they have going on called 'From Cezanne to Picasso'. There was so much there, I'll have to just give highlights....
  • An amazing collection of Rodin sculptures, including the Gates (from Dante's Inferno)

  • Renoir, including the famous Boat Party

  • VanGogh (one of my all time favorite artists) and a beautiful piece of his called 'La nuit des etoiles, Arles' meaning Stary night, Arles. It is beautiful and sadly looked over I think, in favor of his more famous 'Stary Stary Night'.

  • Monet, and many of his Water Lilies, as well as others from his earlier days, which are incredible, what he does with light is astounding.

  • Manet, and many of his famous works, including other little studies, which were fantastic, including the Picnic in the Garden

  • Gaugin, many of his Tahitian paintings, including Odalisque reclining on a Divan, which is a gorgeous painting, and one I studied only last is amazing to see all of these in real life and up close, to be able to really study the individual brush strokes of these artists.

  • Degas, a very extensive collection of his pastels, as well as oil paintings. I have a special place in my heart for Degas, ever since I first saw his work when I was a little girl, and an aspiring prima ballerina! He really has an amazing ability to capture the romance and softness of the beauty of ballet. (It reminds me of the song from 'A Chorus Line' called 'At the Ballet', part of the lyrics say that 'Everyone is beautiful at the ballet, every prince has got to have his one!').

  • Cezanne, who is amazing if only for what a difference he made in the art world during his life, he was one of the avante garde, who pushed for a change in the way art was both created and percieved.

  • Derain, who is one of the famous Fauvists (the group of artists who believed in the power of arbitrary color, which is basically the use of colors that would normally make no sense in the world, like a pink river and a yellow sky.) Also one of my favorites.

  • Picasso, a wonderful selection of many different periods of his works. Simply fantastic!

  • And numerous other amazing works!!!

I had lunch in the restaurant there, and it was FABULOUS!!! I had the most delicious pork filet mignon (funny note, mignon in French means 'cute') with gnocchi in a sage tomato cream sauce. Then afterwards, I had an espresso (so delicious) with a little selection of goodies.

Walked around a bit more that day, then headed back here to the hotel and had a little picnic on my bed of a salad, sandwich and a Heineken. Good stuff.

Yesterday I slept in and wandered down the Rue La Fayette (the street my hotel is on) and found a lovely little shopping district. I went into the Galaries La Fayette, which is one of the most massive and amazing department stores I have EVER been in! It is huge!!! I spent most of the morning just wandering around that neighborhood, and on my way walking back up to the hotel, I found a lovely little cafe to stop and have lunch at. I sat down and had a coca-light with tortalinni in a meaty tomato sauce....with cheese on top....baked. It was amazingly delicious!

After my lovely meal, I wandered back to the hotel to meet Katherine. She got here around 4:30 and it was wonderful to see her again, it felt like it had been forever! We caught up on the last two days, and then went and found a grocery store and had a nice little picnic on our bed.

Today was quite the lazy day as well....we didn't even get out of bed until after 10 (which I think we deserve since we've been running from place to place for the last 3 weeks! This is the longest we've been anywhere!) then we came downstairs to breakfast. We took the bus down to the Rue de Rivoli and went shopping today! It was very fun....we splurged on some really cute things. We both felt amazing not to be in something dirty (lets face it, doing our laundry in a bath tub in a hotel room just doesn't compare....) and slightly trashy. It was so fun! We were out all day, and found a delicious Kebap place for lunch. *Note: I hate that we don't have Kebaps at home....they are amazingly delicious.

Now we are more or less in for the evening and about to have another little picnic on our bed while we watch some more international news loops, and Friends in French!

Tomorrow we will take the free walking tour (the same company as the ones we did in Berlin and Munich) and then go to the airport....tomorrow night we will be in Glasgow!!! YAY for English speaking countries!

Love you all!!!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

04.07.04 Paris, France

Finally I'm somewhere where I can actually understand what's going on around me! Happy 4th of July to everyone....let it be known that I am VERY upset that I am missing both the 4th and the 24th....I did not think this trip through!!!

C'est la vie. Today I left Amsterdam (thank God! I know you love it Chels, but its not quite my speed!!) at 12:30, and finally arrived in Paris around 5 pm. I was so incredibly happy to be here, in a place where I can read all the signs, understand the language, not to mention a city I already know incredibly well!

I wandered down the Rue La Fayette this evening, and I'd forgotten how the streets in Paris are not straight, and it isn't as easy to circle a block as one would hope! Anyway, I am here for the next 4 nights, and sometime between now and Sunday, Katherine will be meeting me here! She went her own way this morning, I think to Brugges, or Ghent.

I'll write again soon...thanks for all your messages! Time is flying by, I've already been here for 3 weeks! Halfway through!!

Love to you all!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

03.07.07 Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Today we left Zurich at 9 am.....went to Basel, Switzerland, then changed trains once again in Frankfurt, Germany. It was a beautifully scenic train ride, even if it was gray and rainy all day. We got into Amsterdam at about 6 pm, then had to wait in line at a ticket counter so I could get my reservation for my trip to Paris tomorrow. (for those who weren't apprised of the changes in our plans, I am going ahead to Paris tomorrow for 4 nights, Katherine is stopping in a few towns in Belgium then meeting me in Paris on Friday, most likely).

Finally got my reservation, and headed out to find our hostel....its called the "Budget Hotel Tourist Inn". No joke....that is the full name.

We went up to our room to drop our stuff and while we were getting ready to leave again, we definitely smelled hashish wafting through the hallways. I guess its what you expect in Amsterdam! Katherine and I decided we'll probably get high just walking through the INSANE!!

We then went for a short walk and saw the following:
  • And old man band playing "Johnny Be Good", "Blue Suede Shoes" and "These Boots Are Made For Walking" on a bright blue Chevy.
  • The Red Light District: the girls definitely sit in windows on the street to advertise themselves. Sex shops and "Live Porno Show"s abound!
  • Found a cool looking square with a bunch of old buildings around it, and got caught in a monsoon. No, I am not exaggerating! We both looked not only like drowned rats, but like we had both just jumped fully clothed, bags and all into a lake!!

Suffice it to say we made it back the Budget Hotel Tourist Inn, and changed so we could come downstairs here and use our internet!

Tomorrow I leave at 12:30 for Paris, and I am very excited to be there!! Great times! Talk to you all soon....sending much love!

Monday, July 02, 2007

02.07.07 Zurich, Switzerland

Hello again from Zurich!

I have a bit more time today, so I am going to start with Venice, and give you an update of what we did there...which was some master wandering! We're getting very good at that.
First of all, we were staying on the mainland, and Venice is actually an island type city out in the middle of the ocean.We took a shuttle bus from our campground to the city, got off, and started our adventure. We wandered through the serpentine streets and alleyways with the general destination of the Rialto Bridge and the Piazza San Marco. Venice is such a beautifully romantic, charming city. I absolutely love it. It really is just what you would my uncle Mike said in an email to me the other is definitly a city of wet streets!

We saw all the main sights, and then wandered back to a pizza place we had seen that morning for a fabulous slice of Italian pizza. Then we found a beautiful little street right on the grand canal that was in the shade where we sat for a long while (we had just taken a night train the night before and had a crazy kid from California in our compartment talking at us until 3 am. so we were sleepy) and we actually ended up sleeping on the streets of Venice for a while that afternoon! After a bit, we got up and....guess what? Wandered some more!

The next day in Venice was spent much in the same manner since we weren't leaving there until 8pm. We sat at a little cafe on the grand canal and at a delicious lunch of authentic Italian pasta, which I followed up with the best cappucino I have ever had! After that, we staked out a pillar in front of the train station (which was just across the canal from where we were at the cafe) and took turns sitting watching the backpacks, while one of us wandered. I've almost finished Slaughter-House Five now....fabulous book, btw.

I already wrote much about our day yesterday here in Zurich. It is so beautiful a very different way than Venice was. We had a great time just wandering here though, too. Mostly everything was closed here yesterday, because it was Sunday....though we did find the coolest place EVER!!
We went to a place called Cabaret Voltaire, which is a cafe/cabaret/gallery, and the actual place where dadaism began!! It was pretty much the coolest place we found yesterday!

Today, we went on a very long walk, to see most of the historic places...mainly the churches of Zurich. Most of them here were originally Catholic, but were changed to protestent with Zwingli (the leader of the Swiss Reformation). One church here, which was my favorite, is called Frauenkirche. It was originally a convent, and now has stained glass windows in it by Marc Chagall.....they were so incredibly beautiful. I can hardly explain how amazing they are!

We also took a walk up and then back down the other side of the Bahnhofstrasse, which is the famous shopping street of Zurich. We saw about 3 or 4 H&M's there. Crazy! We also found a fabulous Swiss chocolate store!! It was beautiful! And delicious.

Now we're just here at another random internet cafe, taking some shelter from the rain that has been pouring down all day here. Tomorrow morning we leave for Amsterdam!

Missing you all, very much!!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

01.07.07 Zurich, Switzerland

Hello from Zurich!!! Last night we took the last train from Venezia to Bologna, so that we could catch our night train from there to Zurich. We ended up sitting at the train station in Bologna much longer than we wanted, but we didn't really have a choice. Our train last night though, was FABULOUS!!! Well, at least compared to the other nightmarish night trains we've experienced! We had our own compartment with couchettes, which were two top bunks with seats beneath. We got a bottle of water when we boarded, and then when we woke up, we got a breakfast of two croissants, juice, coffee, and a little piece of candy! It was so fabulous!

I woke up this morning around 6 am, and looked outside the train window and saw exactly what you would think a village in the Swiss Alps would look like. It is so incredibly beautiful here! I can hardly believe it.

I don't have much more time to write right now, but just to give you an idea, today we took a boat ride on Lake Zurichsee, which is the most beautiful lake I think I have ever seen, and on each side, it is surrounded by the Alps!! It is incredible!!!!!

I'll write more soon, but love you all, and can't wait to show you pictures of this beautifully pristine country!!!