Saturday, May 16, 2009

One for the road...

So I am off tomorrow for my whirlwind adventure through Europe part 1!!! I still cannot believe that I'm going and as with everything to do with traveling, I feel like I'm not ready. Don't get me wrong... I'm ready... I'm just mentally not prepared to be standing in front of the Eiffel Tower in 12 hours!!! I will be gone 16 days - returning on June 1st! I am so excited. Exams have finished, and nothing is standing between me and Europe now except for the 3 hours of sleep I'll be trying to get now before I catch a cab at 5am tomorrow morning... pray for me!

So here is the Itinerary and you are welcome to Travel along with Phoebe and myself as we journey...
(for those of you on Facebook, you will get more regular updates than on the blog, but I'll try my best here as well)

Phoebe and Miranda’s Europe Trip!

17th May
Flight London to Paris:
Eiffel Tower
Arc de Triomph
Champs – Elysees
Moulin Rouge
Sacre Coeur

18th May
Notre Dame
St Chapelle
Conciergerie Prison
Place de la Bastille

19th May
Versailles Palace
Left over or Do over day

20th May
Bus to Euro Disneyland:
Disneyland Paris: (10am – 7pm)

21st May
Disneyland Paris: (10am – 7pm)

22nd May
Train from Paris to Brussels:
Lunch in Brussels & Passport stamp
Train from Brussels to Amsterdam

23rd May
Van Gogh Museum:
Anne Frank House:

24th May
Train from Amsterdam to Berlin

25th May
Pergamon Museum
Berlin Cathedral
Unter Den Linden
Brandenburger tor & Parise Platz
Checkpoint Charlie

26th May
To Hostel:
Left over or Do over morning…
Get to Hostel
Attractions: (afternoon)
Schloss Charlottenburg

27th May
Train from Berlin to Prague

Old Town Square
Old Jewish Cemetery

28th May
Charles Bridge
Petrin Hill
Prague Castle
Cathedral of St Vitus

29th May
Train from Prague to Salzburg

30th May
Sound of Music Tour – 9:30am (4hrs)
Mirabell Gardens
Geburtshaus – Mozart’s birthplace
Wohnhaus – Mozart’s house

31st May
Left over or Do over morning
Train from Salzburg to Munich

Marienplatz Glochenschpeil – 5pm

1st June
Frauenkirche – Cathedral of our Blessed Lady
Residence Palace of Munich
Hofbrauhaus – Beer Hall
Flight from Munich to London

Back in London by 8:00pm!!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Victoria & Albert Museum, Buckingham, and Kensington Palace...

I know... it's been a while since I have written, but I have much to share with you in the last week! Right after my last post I headed out with Leonore and Phoebe into London to visit the Victoria & Albert Museum. I had heard how wonderful this museum was, but quite frankly I thought It's just another musuem... How very wrong I was. It is an incredible museum, but also an art gallery, fashion archive, cultural phenomenon!! I was so incredibly blown away by all they had! Very cool stuff...

Me and Christopher Wren!!

I had such a fun day and I didn't even get to see it all. Unfortunately the musical instrument section was closed for renovations... ugh!

The next day after the V&A museum, Phoebe, Leonore, and I went back to London for another day of excitement!!! It was this day that we went to see Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace!
First stop - Buckingham Palace - at 11am we made it to the gates and were met with 100s upon 100s of people crowded around waiting for the changing of the guards ceremony. This was precisely what we were there for also, so trying to get to the front of the crowd, we knew, would be a task. Luckily I'm very pushy, so we could see the courtyard in no time!

The ceremony is long... it's cool and tradition and all that... but it's long. Finally the band got into position and began playing some tunes... all of a sudden I recognized a song... how odd - "that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh I like it!" That's right... they started playing 70s and 80s hits!! I kept yelling my request for Eye of the Tiger, but no luck. We danced and sang a little bit in place.. the people around me laughed - AT me, not with me.
It was a very good time, but sadly the Queen was not home and she didn't get to party with us. After Buckingham Palace, the 3 of us went off to Kensington Gardens to visit an old friend if mine...

Last time I saw Peter was my first trip into London EVER back in January... I missed him and needed one last visit to say goodbye. Later in Kensington Palace I found a necklace charm of the statue and was gonna buy it. It was only 14.95GBP! So I get up to the cash register and hand her the packet. She rings it up and it pops up 19.95GBP. I point out the mistake and she goes and checks for me. She comes back, "oh yeah it was mismarked... it's 19.95" so I reply "oh... strange. Well is it possible for me to get it for the ticketed price?"... "It's 19.95 miss" and then she proceeds to put it behind her on the table and call for the next customer... EXCUSE ME!! I wasn't finished! I mean how does she know that I wouldn't still have bought it... HOW RUDE! So I just left... leaving Peter behind. But I'm getting ahead of myself with stories of Kensington Palace, and we're not even there yet... let's finish Kensington Gardens

At the end of Kensington Gardens lies Kensington Palace which was the childhood home of Queen Victoria and was also the official residence of Princess Diana until her death. It houses all her most famous dresses!

It also has an exhibit on right now about the debutant society of England in the 1950s (the last debutant era)... there were clothes and etiquette lessons all throughout the palace...

It was fun learning how to be a debutant and be presented to the queen... even if it was just her picture.

After Kensington and the unfortunate incident in the gift shop, we headed out of Kensington Gardens past the Albert Memorial. Queen Victoria sure loved that man.

here I am posing with the part of the memorial dedicated to America

To finish off our visit into London, Leonore took us to the Hummingbird Bakery next to South Kensington Station!! They have such delicious cupcakes!

The chocolate one was AMAZING!! It was basically mini snicker, milkways, malteses, gummy bears, and marshmallows all covered in chocolate and shmushed together into the shape of a cupcake... I was in love!!!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

another one bites the dust...

- I have now completed 2 out of my 3 finals this semestre. It's tough writing two hand-written essays in two hours... I find that in the end my brain is fried and I have a righteous hand-cramp... no worries though, because with the essays I just wrote, I am guaranteed NOT to fail... don't get me wrong, I may pass by the lint on my sweater, but I'll pass all the same. And in the end that is all that counts.
- I have seen two movies this week in celebration - Becoming Jane (okay I've seen this one a million times, but in honor of visiting her house, I needed my dose of Tom Lefroy) and 17 Again (don't judge because I am now unashamedly crushing on Zac Efron. It was a TERRIBLE movie - I think it was even more cheesy than high school music (YES I saw all three of those too))... wow you're learning a lot about me in this post
- I realize I have less than 2.5 weeks left cumulatively in England... rest of my 6.5 weeks left will be spent in Europe.
- Hostels and Flights are completed and booked for Phoebe and mine's Europe Adventure #1!!!

ITINERARY (brief outline):
Paris - 3 days
Eurodisneyland - 2 days
Brussels - lunch
Amsterdam - 2 days
Berlin - 3 days
Prague - 2 days
Salzburg*** - 2 days
Munich - afternoon before flight back to London
*** That's right... we decided to forgo Stockholm Sweden because of high cost for the flight in favor of Salzburg and a sing along Sound Of Music Tour!!!!!

- I bought new clothes. After making all these final arrangements for Europe I realized that I needed new clothes without the holes and stains and jeans that actually fit... so I went shopping. I bought 9 tops, 1 dress, 1 pair of jeans, and 2 pairs of shorts... all for under 100GBP!!!!!!
- I got a tiny bit of a sunburn yesterday while sitting out in the quad and studying with Leonore... I had forgotten the feeling of a sunburn
- I am trying to eat slower... I realized I have become a MACHINE come meal time and finish WAY before Phoebe does... I have no idea why this started... for anyone who knows me I use to be THE slowest eater... not anymore. I am gonna try to slow down.
- I have made a list of things I need to see and do in England before I leave here... there is a lot. I am realizing that I will be unable to do EVERYTHING I want here... nothing I am not seeing is all too important that my heart is broken, but I am definitely needing to plan my remaining time here... so today is the Victoria & Albert Museum and possibly a pop into the Natural History Museum again :)
- I love it's amazing!!!
- I am devastated that Pushing Daisies is finally done... the last episode aired and now the Pie maker is out of my life forever. So sad.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A day with Miss Austen...

Here it is people - Teresa, Kendra, Aaron, Sarah, and anyone else who loves Jane Austen as much as I do!!! Everyone has been referring to this trip as my Jane Austen adventure and yet it has taken me 4 months to finally make my way down to Hampshire to pay my respects to probably one of my favorite people in the entire world!!! I have said it before, and I will say it again... Jane Austen understands apart of my heart like few other people in the universe ever could. She is amazing and I think the world of her. When someone asks me, "if you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be?" My answer is instantly Jane. I think she and I would have the time of our lives discussing people, friends, family, love, hopes, and dreams... She is just super.

So I finally visited her house! Leonore, Phoebe and I set out on our adventure early saturday morning. Catching a train to Winchester, we set about to first make our way to her final resting place in Winchester Cathedral. We were super excited on the train!! We did our best "Jane Austen" poses and Leonore ever brought along her copy of Mansfield Park she was reading for a class of hers.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous!!! With a high of 63 degrees, I was in heaven!!! Leonore, Phoebe, and I also couldn't get over how fairytale storybook this town was!!! Flowers blooming, everyone out enjoying the lovely weather, green grass, cool breezes, warm sunshine, used book sales, tudors houses, stone streets... Winchester may be my favorite new place outside of London!!!
Some pictures of the town

My Winchester home...

I'm convinced fairies live here...
So as we waited for the Cathedral to open, we took a ramble around the city and came upon the house Jane lived in for the 6 weeks before she passed away...

Then on to one of my favorite England things... CASTLE RUINS!!! Oh and we bought ice cream from the ice cream man!!!


semi candid... kind of like it...

After the ruins had worked their charm we headed back to Winchester Cathedral. Inside held the final resting place of my beloved author.

Let's all take a moment...

and in honor of Jane, we did an old fashioned country dance...

I know some of you think that is disrespectful, but I think Jane would have loved it.
After having quite a moment with Jane, we toured the rest of the Cathedral. I especially loved the children's chapel

and a quick stop at the Holy Children's toy box...

and another awesome door
There is also a very old Bible at Winchester Cathedral and some old books... but after all our Cathedral fun we had lunch. We sat in the middle of the high street and watched as teenagers ranging from 13 - 16 swarmed around this central statue and played out their teenage-ness. It was hilarious people watching and we tried to figure out the personalities, futures, and drama of all the kids!!! It was epic and straight out of a Gossip Girl episode - awesome.
Winchester is not just known for it's young people... or it's Cathedral and part in Jane Austen's life... oh no. Winchester Cathedral has been used in the filming of several films including Elizabeth The Golden Age with Cate Blanchet. But Winchester also has King Arthur's Round Table... I am still confused as to why England still thinks he's real... but here it is...

wait... that's not it... but it was round and it's the first thing you see when you walk into the great hall... but actually this is the table

and who else was there... Queen Victoria... she's everywhere

Oh and we found this... and it made me think of swine flu

But enough is enough... let's get to the real reason for the trip - Jane Austen's house!! This house was actually in a neighboring town called Chawton and was just a 30 minute bus ride away... Now Winchester tourist center gave us a indepth description of how to get to Jane Austen's house, but a nice old lady on the bus gave an INFINITELY faster path... which proved PERFECT! We walked down a country road, past "Bunny Island" (which was the center of a round about filled with grass, trees, and bunnies...

And then out of the brush arose the Mecca of my literary hopes and dreams!!!!

This was the house in which she revised Pride & Prejudice, wrote Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and Emma!!! This was the very desk at which she use to write

The bedroom she shared with her sister Cassandra

The garden she would walk in

I could not get over the amazing fact that I was in Jane Austen's house!!!! Every time the floor would creak or as I slid my hand up the staircase bannister, I thought of house she felt and heard the same things... how she must have walked those very steps. She was inspired to write some of the greatest love stories of ALL time within the walls of her house and the small community surrounding it. It was one of the very biggest highlights of my trip thus far!
After we were the last ones to leave the house before it closed, with our souvenirs in hand, we hoped to get a creme tea at a local tea shop, but they had all closed about the same time Austen's house did :( So instead we walked over to the park across the street and sat on a bench in the sunshine and watched some men play cricket.

We also had a go on the swing set, which was INCREDIBLY fun!!! I hadn't been on a swing in years. Those pictures are on Leonore's camera, so I'll have to add them later.

We finally made it back to Winchester after waiting for a bus on a desserted country road for almost an hour... we played the song game (the one you play Nicole)... we laughed till we cried at one point when Phoebe and I did the entire Elephant Love Medley from Moulin Rouge (opera voice in the background and all)... and then we took the train back to Egham where I introduced Leonore and Phoebe to the wonderment of Newsies (the definitive film of my preteen years) which they had never seen before... travesty. A 17 year old Christian Bale singing and dancing is not to be missed!!! Before there was Zac Efron there were News boys of New York singing their way into young girls hearts everywhere and a pre-Batman Bale was at the forefront!!!

It was the perfect day :)