Thursday, February 28, 2013

Happy Days.



Do you ever have those moments where everything feels like it is all going great, and you are just really, really... content? It's a great feeling. This week hasn't been particularly special (aside from turning 21 on Sunday) but I feel great! Maybe it's that I am no longer sick, or that I got a couple of new routes at the rock wall last night, or maybe it's that Crunchie bars were on sale at Morrison's yesterday...

Whatever the reason, life is great, and I just wanted to share!

-El

Friday, February 22, 2013

The British Museum, Part One


The British Museum is a really incredible place. Even more incredible, entry is free, and it is only 23 minutes from my flat. That's practically next door. The museum is huge, and today I decided to just wander around. The plan was just to walk through all the exhibits, just to get a general idea about what I wanted to spend more time on. That was the plan. 

It wasn't a bad plan, but I am easily distracted. First I was distracted by the Ancient Egyptians...



 ...then by the Greeks and Romans....


...and finally by Africa...


Did you know that the word "museum" comes from the word "Mouseion", and it meant a place connected with the Muses?

Or that geese were a favourite pet of children from ancient Greece?

Or that the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?

Well now you do. 

I will be headed back soon to do more exploring. I still have Asia, the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe that I haven't seen at all, and I never made it to the mummy exhibit for Ancient Egypt. 

-El




Thursday, February 21, 2013

Out of Context


Because sometimes photographs are better without explanations. Thanks to Rachel for help with computer nonsense. 

-El

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It's Fake Salsa.

Last night I got to talk to, scream at, laugh with, laugh at, and generally be reminded that I am friends with some pretty cool people. Also, it's not nice to tease Rachel with ranch (but I will probably continue to do it anyway).

Yep. We are all nuts. 

I love being in London, meeting all kinds of new people, hearing so many other languages, and trying so many new things, but it is so nice that the wonderful world of Skype and Google + exist to keep up with what is going on back home. So, Betsy and Anna, thanks for being late to dinner to talk to me, and Rachel... make some friends in the American military. 

-El

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Movie Time!

Tuesday I went to the Tate Modern with Gill one of my relatives that lives near London. We had a lot of fun, even though neither of us really understood the exhibits. On our way in, we saw people shooting a film! No idea what it was for, but still really cool.


The poor actors looked sooo cold. Every time they stopped filming, people ran over to them with big jackets. 

-El

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Great Walking Tour of London, Take Two

Katie came to visit! Katie, The Not So Merry Wanderer made it down to London to visit me this weekend! After a brief snafu with late buses, unhelpful arrival screens, and my lack of a cell phone, we were off to explore! On Friday night we had a quick dinner of fish and chips then went to a club with my flatmates. We didn't get home too late, but managed to sleep until two the next afternoon...



When we finally managed to get up on Saturday, we headed off to Borough Market to explore. And eat delicious chicken and mushroom pies for lunch (breakfast?).


While walking around, we found this awesome duo, and the bridge they were under made the acoustics pretty incredible. 


We also tried mulled wine (cider is better), and had a pretty fantastic time exploring the market and the surrounding area. 


Oh, and the paella. Holy smokes, the paella. 


Saturday night we took it easy, and went to this really cool bar called Brew Dog (read:underground speakeasy bar). More about that when I figure out how to make a Nutty Professor. 

Sunday, we planned on exploring the city more, but didn't have more concrete plans then that, until we realised that there was a Chinese new years festival in Trafalgar square on Sunday morning. Some of the underground lines were down because of the "routine maintenance" that seems to always shut down the tube on weekends. Instead of taking the bus, Katie and I decided that four and a half miles was clearly walking distance. Especially in the 34 degree (F) weather and rain.


We made it, and didn't stop walking for the rest of the day (except for a short lunch respite). Seriously guys, if you hate walking, don't come visit me. You will be miserable. I have walked so much in the past two weeks. Its great. And I haven't really gotten lost. Because if you don't have a directional goal in mind, you can't get lost, right?

We made it to Covent Garden with its awesome street performers:

Why, yes, that is a seven foot high unicycle. 

We also walked along the Strand, and Fleet Street, where we found this awesome sign:

Sadly, The Devil Tavern is no longer in existence on Fleet Street. But I bet they served up a mean meat pie. 

We also made our way to the the Sommerset house, where we saw some incredible paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, C├ęzanne, Renoir, and Manet. Then we, you guessed it -- walked back to my flat, where we watched this awesome show called Relic Hunter. Think Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones, but worse. It's great. Check it out on Netflix. 

Monday, it snowed, and I got to feed geese from my hand. Obviously Monday was awesome. 


-El

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Harry Potter and the Prime Meridian


The first Saturday I was here, the international students had the opportunity to go on a guided tour of London. It was a whole lot of fun, and I now know a lot of interesting facts about London to add to my repertoire of random facts about things that don't matter. Here were a couple of the hilights from the trip:


We went to the Leadenhill Market, an old poultry market with a goose mascot named Old Tom.


Near the market is the door used as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter. It is painted blue now, and looks much less impressive than in the movie.


In the afternoon we went to Greenwich, and saw the Prime Meridian.


We also went to the old Naval Academy and the Maritime Museum (there is an Ansel Adams exhibit there that I am going to go back and see). Much of the new Les Miserable movie was shot in Greenwich, and this is where the elephant scenes were shot.


The barricade scenes were also shot back in the town, and I plan on looking for those at a later date, maybe when I come back for the Ansel Adams exhibit.

There so much to see in this city. I am pretty sure I could live here for years, and still not see everything there is to see. I am looking forward to exploring more!

-El

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Don't Forget Your Walking Shoes.

London is a really awesome city, and there is stuff going on around every corner. On Wednesday Alexis and I decided to wander around the city on foot, and we spent about five and a half hours out (five of those hours were spent walking, we paused briefly to consume some fish and chips at the Tower of London).

 First fish and chips!

It was all pretty incredible. Most of the time we didn't have a map, or any idea where we were going. We did manage to find the reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, London Bridge, and Tower Bridge.

Yay for touristy pictures! We already stood out with out lack of black anyway...

One of the great things about London is that there is always a tube stop nearby, and you can pretty much find your way home from any of them, although we managed all our trip on foot!

Some of the stations are pretty huge, and I plan to avoid them at rush hour at all costs. 

While wandering though the streets we came across Borough Market, and we will definitely be headed back. We also found this super awesome sunshade.

There really is a lot of colour in London, just not on its residents. 

We had a blast, and I plan to spend as much time as possible exploring London by foot. I am pretty sure I could live here for ten years and there would still be things I had yet to see, but I plan to make the most of my short five months!

-El

Friday, February 1, 2013

Day Two, and You Still Aren't Wearing Enough Black

Before I came to London, I was told that people in London wear a lot of black. Man, they weren't kidding. When my flatmates and I hopped on the tube Tuesday morning to head to our international induction at the UEL Docklands campus (we only took the wrong train once!), we stood out. It probably didn't help that we were not confidently striding everywhere, and had to look at signs.

You know how I said we weren't in nearly enough black?

Alexis, me, and Maddison at the Dockland's campus

Alexis's jacket was navy blue, and my shirt was white. Way too much colour.

Induction was long, but we did learn some important information. Oh, and some information it would have been really important to have known two months ago. But hey, y'all can learn from my mistakes. UEL, and several other universites have people in their international office that are CERTIFIED TO PROVIDE VISA ADVICE BY THE BRITISH HOME OFFICE. I just wasn't talking to any of those people in the international office. I made it though, and that is all that really matters.

Tuesday night we had some other international students over for dinner, and since we have no pots and pans to speak of (or cups, or plates, or silverware...), we had frozen pizza. It was a whole lot of fun! Term doesn't start until next week, so we haven't really met any of the students from here yet.

I am so glad to be here, and I can't wait to explore more!

-El