What a great weekend! Friday I was going to get up early to go to a conference panel with my fancy delegate pass but it was too early so I slept in and went to one at 11 about building and escaping your local music scene but it didn’t end up being as cool as I thought it would be. Then I went over to Latest Music Bar for my first shift as a Venue Rep Assistant which sucked. It was a small place with small shows going on so from 1:30-5 I stood in a corner and when a show was on downstairs, I told people to go down there. Super boring. After I got off I got asked to pick up a shift that night from 8-1AM at Psychosocial. I really wanted to see Hawk Eyes and We Are The Ocean that night but I figured I came to work so I took the shift. Beforehand though I went to go see Mallory Knox, the first band on the WATO show, and they were really good. I was tempted to just blow off my shift and stay for the rest of the show. But of course I left. I got to Psychosocial and was “helping” the sound guy. There was another volunteer there who actually knew tech, so she did most of it, setting up mics and rolling cables and stuff, but towards the end I did roll some cables (the wrong way but oh well) and move stuff around on stage. The guys were really nice but I got the impression they were still kind of new at their jobs. Got off there at 12:30 and then just went back to sleep. But of course sleeping in a hostel room with 11 other people during a festival isn’t an easy task.
Saturday I had my first shift back at Latest at 12 so I went over there and actually had something important to do! There was a show going on in the basement that they actually sold tickets for and it was a small, 100-cap room so we had to keep track of numbers and eventually had to turn people away. Apparently this band, Howler, was really popular cause lots of people came for it and then waited in line during the show waiting for people to leave so they could go down. Some people were a bit rude about it but wasn’t too bad. I’ve handled worse. That show was over at 2 though and my shift was till 3 so I stood around for an hour before I left. I went to my favorite free WiFi place and was just hanging out for a bit when I got a call to pick up a shift at Concorde 2 that night. I was going to go there anyways to see some bands so I took it, but they wanted me to go there ASAP. So I skipped food and went out there. But nothing was really going on so I stood around for a while until the headliners showed up 2 hours late and helped them with load in. Eventually my friend Kieran I met on Thursday and another guy came so we hung out until set changes when we took stuff off stage, put the next band’s stuff on, then helped pack up and load the van. Everyone was really nice and it was really fun to have gone to a show at that venue 2 nights and then to come back the 3rd and be working backstage. Especially because it reminded me so much of venues back home like Bogarts and Rocketown and such and just thinking that some day this could be my life. So we got off about 11 and Kieran and I were wound up by then so we decided to go out but neither of us were from Brighton so we went to the store, got some beers, and sat outside the festival hub talking, drinking, and people watching for a while. Then we went to a club for a bit before calling it a night. I think we got back around 2 or something.
Getting up Sunday morning was fun.. I forgot to set an alarm so luckily someone was getting up and said it was 10 so I got up, showered, and checked out by 11. But the Volunteer After Party wasn’t until 2 so I stole WiFi for a bit, then went down and sat by the beach for a while, checked out the pier, ate a delicious, endless bowl Asian noodles and chicken that I got for £2.50, then headed up to the pub. There were free drinks at the party but it was only Red Stripe so I felt kind of hipster drinking it but wasn’t bad at all. It was fun to hang out, catch up with some new friends, make others, drink some beer, and get sun burnt (hence the sad face picture). The party went till 6 but I had to leave at 4:30 to catch my train back to London.
When I first got to Brighton I wasn’t sure how the weekend would go but it turned out to be pretty awesome. Some of the shifts sucked just sitting around, but others were fun and the people were all so fun and nice. Definitely a great event to round out my time in the UK.
This is where I was for the last 5 days and it was pretty awesome.
I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to keep up with this! But since this happened almost a month ago, I’ll keep it short.
Back on April 21st I got up early and trekked out to Kingston to get a Twin Atlantic record for Record Store Day then went back to Victoria station to pick up my friend from High School, Heather. Saturday and Sunday we did lots of the quintessential London things, had a few fails on the tube and with the Camden Pub Crawl but overall a good time. Monday we took a bus out to Bath but the weather was terrible and the baths themselves were really expensive so we met up with her friend who was studying there and had her show us around for a bit, stopped for tea and scones (tea sucks but scones are awesome), then watched Bridget Jones Diary at her flat until our bus ride back. Tuesday more London sights and Wednesday we flew to Dublin.
When we got to Dublin it was SUPER windy out and then also raining but we got in at like 11 so we didn’t want to waste the day so we went out to the Guinness plant which was pretty cool. Guinness is disgusting though, I almost couldn’t finish my free pint that I poured myself because I was gagging… After Guinness we went to Kilmainham Gaol which was this jail important in Irish history which was neat. Friday we did a walking tour with our hostel which was really awesome, learned a lot about Ireland, then we just walked around the city for a bit before going out for the hostel pub crawl. We met some awesome Frenchies who were so adorable. Heather was talking to them in French a lot, I just kind of nodded along. But overall lots of fun. Friday we were pretty tired from our night out so we checked out of the hostel, walked around for a bit and then just hung out at the hostel before our flight. We got back to my room around 1:30 in the morning and got up at 5:30 to take Heather to Victoria to catch the train to Gatwick. Then I slept almost the whole day…
Monday though, I woke up with a sore throat that got worse over the next 2 days. Basically my tonsils were closing up my whole throat. It was gross looking and kind of scary. I almost had to figure out how to go to a doctor but I went to Boots and bought some Ibuprofen and somehow that opened my throat back up again. I lost almost 4 days by being sick but at least it happened when I didn’t have anything to do. That would have sucked if I had been travelling or had an exam.
So I came back to London on Tuesday the 10th, scrambled around finishing a paper and then spent the next couple days being relatively lazy. On Friday the 13th (weird), Beth and I took the tube out to Heathrow around 8:30 because our flight was at 6:40 Saturday morning and the tube wouldn’t be open in time to get us there for that. So we spent a miserable night “sleeping” in the airport. I finally got to sleep ONE time but then the maintenance guys came and wanted to sweep the floors so they made us get up to move the benches. Finally at like 4:30 we were able to check in and check our bags and go to the gate.
We landed in Paris around 10AM, went through Border Control, figured out the train system, and made it out to our Hotel. They wouldn’t let us check in until 4 so we put our bags in the storage room and waited for Beth’s 2 other friends to show up. They said they’d be there around 12 but 1:00 rolled around and no sign of them and we hadn’t slept or eaten a real meal for many many hours so we went to a pizza place down the street for lunch. They didn’t speak any English so that was interesting.. We went back and about 3 the other girls showed up and they were hungry so we took them back to the pizza place and then were on time to check in at 4. We found the place on HostelBookers but it was super nice for €20 a night. It was a little apartment with one bedroom, 2 pullout couches and a full kitchen. We put our stuff down, freshened up, and then went into the city. We started at the Arc de Triomphe, walked over to the Eiffel Tower, ate dinner by the Seine while we waited for it to get dark and then saw the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. So gorgeous. Then we made our way over to Moulin Rouge, got some pictures and headed home for the night.
Sunday we woke up and headed down to the Eiffel Tower so that we could go up in it. One of the lifts was broken so we waited outside in the cold and the wind for almost an hour and a half before we went up. It was so cool at the top though, to see all of Paris stretched out in front of you. And to think people thought it was ugly when it was first built. By the time we came down none of us could really feel our feet and were really cold so we decided to hit the Louvre. Also very cool. Not everyone is into museums like I am so we didn’t stay there too too long, I wouldn’t have minded looking around a bit longer but we did see some cool stuff like Napoleon III’s apartments, Mona Lisa and Venus statue. After that we walked towards Notre Dame, got DELICIOUS nutella crepes, and then went inside the Cathedral. We were there during mass which was so neat to be able to see such an iconic church actually in use. And not to mention it was gorgeous inside. Next we tried to go to a cemetery where Jim Morrison is buried but it was closed so we headed home and made some pasta in the apartment and tried to drink this €2 wine we all bought but it was terrible and we didn’t drink barely any of it.
Monday we got up, hit the cemetery first and then headed out to Versailles. There weren’t many people there so we got great pictures in front of the gates and such but we walked around the corner and saw a sign that said the palace was closed on Mondays. We were so upset. Since we were already there we did the gardens, which were just breathtaking. So glad we were there in the spring when things were actually in bloom. After a little bit of a stroll around there we went back to the Eiffel Tower since it was a gorgeous day outside to take cute pictures in front of it. We took lots of jumping pictures, most of which were unsuccessful, but it was lots of fun. Next we headed over to Luxembourg Palace and park to check that out for a bit and decided to make the trek up to Sacre Couer. None of us really knew what it was but it was on all the touristy souvenirs so we went. There were lots of stairs to get up there but once you made it you got another gorgeous panorama view of the city. Since it was our last night and sort of right before Beth’s birthday we went back to the hotel, got dressed all fancy and then went into the city for a nice Italian meal because she really wanted some good pasta. We were going to go to a club or bar afterwords but the guy took forever to bring us our checks and then when we tried to get on the RER over to the bar the guy said it was closed for the night so instead of risking it we decided to just be safe and head home before everything else closed.
Tuesday we got up early and Beth and I (because the other 2 girls were staying longer) went out to Versailles hoping we could do the inside of the Palace before our flight. When we got there though it was packed and there’s no way we would have made it inside with enough time to actually enjoy it. So disappointingly we left and headed to the airport. We had to register for fall classes for our home University at 2PM because that’s 7AM CST so we did that with our 15 minutes of free WiFi and then waited for our flight.
Overall it was an awesome trip. Travel-wise, things worked out extremely smoothly. Flights were on time and smooth, didn’t have to wait long in security or Border Control (which at Heathrow is AMAZING) and we made it into the city in pretty good time. The food was awesome, I’m absolutely in love with baguette sandwiches and pain a chocolat now. The city was just like I imagined it, very elegant and pretty. The only non-elegant thing was the Metro and RER trains. All the stations smelled like pee and they were not as cool or efficient as the London tube system. I would definitely go back again in a heartbeat.
Wow, I’ve been absolutely TERRIBLE at keeping this blog! Not much really happened in the 2 weeks between Edinburgh and when my parents flew in I don’t think. Just wrapping up school work for the semester.
So Sunday April 1 my parents and brother flew in and I went out to Heathrow to pick them up. Right off the bat they were their hilarious selves even though they’d been traveling for like 12 hours by that point. I helped my mom use her pounds to buy a Pepsi and then we took the train into the city and checked into their hotel. First thing was I took them up to Abbey Road but they were doing construction on the street so they couldn’t get pictures crossing the crosswalk. I then took them down to Primark because they forgot to bring wash cloths and of course it was a zoo in there. We got in and out as fast as humanly possible and then took the tube over to Trafalgar Square, walked a little down the mall by Buckingham Palace, through St. James Park, past Downing Street, over to Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. By that point it was dinner time so we walked across the bridge and found a Latin restaurant called Las Iguanas that was really yummy. Then I took them back to the Metropolitan Bar for Belgian waffles. So good.
Monday I had to intern from 10-6 but it was my last day (YAY) and Laura let me go early at 5:30 so I tried to text my brother and figure out where they were. I SWORE that he said they were going to be at Tower Bridge so I took the tube down there, walked across the bride 3 times, went back to the station to meet Beth because she was coming to dinner with us, then texted him again and he said they were at London Bridge. No idea why they went to London Bridge because I told them to go to Tower Bridge the day before but so Beth and I speed walked over there and we went to a pub for dinner.
Tuesday morning I had a class at 10 but it was just exam review so we got out at 11 and I met them at Victoria Station. From there we decided to go to the Science Museum. I’d already been before and I’m not too into science but my brother and Dad are both big science and engineering nerds so we were there for a while till my mom and I were too bored to put up with it and we went to Knightsbridge. I took them in Harrods and then to the MacLaren and Ferrari dealerships because they like fancy cars. Next we went to Piccadilly Circus but only my Dad recognized it… Then across town to the British Museum. It was close to closing time so we only really got to see the Rosetta Stone, parts of the Parthenon and some mummies. Next was King’s Cross for Platform 9 3/4, took the bus back to Baker Street and then went to this delicious Turkish restaurant. I burnt my mouth but it was so worth it. I left them to go do laundry and pack for Italy which ended up taking forever and then I dropped my suitcase with them so they could take it to the airport.
Wednesday I had my final Art and Society class which was sad but also cool. We went to the Wallace Collection which is in an old hunting lodge and is this one family’s personal collection of art from the 17th and 18th centuries, right up my alley. I left class a little early and raced to get on the tube to Heathrow. When I got off the train I looked to my right and saw my family getting off the car behind the one I was in. How funny! So we checked in and eventually got on our flight. We flew Lufthansa to Frankfurt then had a 4 hour layover and then Frankfurt to Venice. By then it was like 11 so we just went to the hotel, checked in, and went to bed. This hotel though, so nice!
Thursday we got up, had a yummy breakfast in the hotel, then took the bus into Venice. We walked down this main road through most of the island. So many street vendors, bridges, gondolas, and tiny alleyways. Every street vendor had the SAME thing though. It was kind of weird but of course my parents went really slow and looked at almost everything. I did end up getting a Fernando Torres Spain jersey for €10 so that ruled. We saw the Rialta bridge, San Marco’s Square and Basillica and took a boat taxi back to the bus stop. That night, my parents went down to the hotel bar for some wine but Randy and I stayed in the room. Turns out the only English channels on Italian TV are Al Jazeera, CNN, Fox News, Bloomburg, and the MTV networks. So we watched music videos on MTV Rocks or something all night.
Friday, another yummy breakfast, which I think is going to be one of the things I miss most about Italy, and then we drove from Venice to outside Bologna to go to the Ferrari museum. Pretty neat, but again, something that interested everyone else more than me. On the drive from Bologna to Florence I somehow fell asleep in the car and missed all the pretty scenery :( Eventually we made our way to our hotel which was also really nice. We went to dinner at this nice trattoria at the top of the hill and quickly found out how late Italians eat. We showed up around 7:30 and they were just sort of getting ready to open for dinner. It was so delicious though. Mmmmmmm
Saturday we had yet more good Italian breakfast and then took the bus into the city of Florence (or Firenze if you’re from Italy) and tried to go to the Accademia to see the David but the first ticket time was a couple hours from then so we gave up and moved on. We went instead to the Medici house and church and then to the Duomo. The outside is definitely more impressive than the inside. Luckily it was free and didn’t take too long to get in. We walked, saw more, had some dinner, and went back for the night.
Sunday Randy had to leave to go back home for school so my dad got up early and dropped him off at the airport and then we went to the Uffizi Art Gallery. It wasn’t as cool as I thought it was going to be, to be honest. My dad likes to look at everything and read every single sign though so we were in there FOREVER. By the time we left it was an awkward time before Italian dinner time so we walked around a bit and then ate dinner by the Duomo.
Monday we decided to go to Pisa. Well, it was the Monday after Easter and it was really nice outside and I think everyone had the same idea as us because it took us FOREVER to get there. But once we got there we parked the car and went to see the tower. It was pretty neat. You know that it’s the leaning tower of Pisa but you don’t realize just how much it’s leaning until you’re standing there. In a way I’m kind of surprised that it hasn’t fallen over… Very cool to see for sure. There really isn’t much else to do in Pisa besides see the tower so we went to the car and drove out to the Marina. Again, not much out there besides a street festival of some kind so soon enough we drove back into Florence.
Tuesday we had to get up early to go to the airport for our flight at 6:40AM. Originally I was supposed to fly with my parents to Frankfurt and then they would fly to Montreal while I had a 4 hour layover before flying back to London. Well, when I checked my bag the lady said I could get into London at 10:45AM if I flew through Munich so of course I took that option! But there was only an hour from touch down to take off in Munich. Luckily it isn’t a very big airport/I landed and took off from the same terminal so it was no big deal. The crappy part was standing at Border Control at Heathrow for an hour and a half.
Overall it was a fun trip. Definitely nice to spend time with my family for a bit. Also it was nice to travel on a nice airline and stay in nice hotels and eat nice meals instead of doing cheap travel, sleeping in hostels and eating cheap food for once.
Best of Edinburgh
The weekend after Adventure Weekend I went to Edinburgh with my friend Beth. We left Friday afternoon and took the train from King’s Cross, which was very cool. You seriously feel like you’re in Harry Potter and about to go to Hogwarts, no joke. We got into Edinburgh around 7:30 and Beth’s friend Sarah came to pick us up from the station and take us back to her flat. She took us to a pub across the street for dinner called Montague. It was really cute but there was like no one in there. Okay so normally meals in Britain are pretty small, so we decided to order some nachos as a starter and then we all got beef lasagna. Well the nachos were delicious but when that lasagna came, we were all pretty surprised. It was the biggest piece of lasagna I’ve ever had. None of us finished it all. It was really good though. Sarah then took us to her favorite Irish pub, Malone’s. I’ve decided I love Irish pubs. There was a live band playing classic rock songs and just the vibe and atmosphere was so fun! We stayed there dancing for a while but decided not to stay out too late.
Saturday morning we got up around 9 and then went to climb Arthur’s Seat. It’s this huge mountain thing and gets its name because it was supposedly King Arthur’s favorite place to come and think. Hiking up it was an effort for sure. After we got up there we realized it only took like 30 minutes or so but going up it seemed forever and lots of huffing and stopping. But just like in Wales, it was SO worth it. Seriously amazing views. It was super windy up at the top though. Scotland “blew me away” haha. We climbed back down and then went to Elephant House for lunch. For all those who don’t know, that’s the cafe where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Pretty neat. Then we went to Greyfriar’s Cemetery because there’s an actual grave in there that reads Thomas Riddle. We looked but couldn’t find it. The cemetery was really cool in general though. After that we walked the Royal Mile up to Edinburgh Castle. More castles! Very cool and definitely lots of joke photos taking place there. Then we decided to go shopping because I completely forgot to bring going out clothes so we found Primark and got a top for £8 then headed to Tesco to get dinner and went back to Sarah’s place. I got in the shower and by the time I got out Beth had fallen asleep. However, it was St. Patrick’s Day and you’re only in Europe for St. Patrick’s Day once and I really wanted to go out. Luckily Sarah felt the same way so we left Beth to sleep and went out. Since Sarah is really Beth’s friend I was worried it might be awkward but she’s such a sweetheart that it wasn’t awkward at all. We went to a place called Three Sisters and it was so much fun! Lots of green, beer, Irish music, and nice Scottish people. We only stayed until midnight but that’s okay, I’m so glad I went.
Sunday we got up and went to Holyroodhouse Palace which is one of the Queen’s houses. It was so neat. I just love things like that. After that we walked more of the Royal Mile and then went to Calton’s Hill. Again, more awesome views of the city. Edinburgh is actually pretty hilly so almost everywhere we went we were able to get great views. After that we went back to Sarah’s flat and just hung out for a while until it was time to catch the train back.
Edinburgh was awesome. The city is gorgeous, I loved all the buildings and the accents and the kilts and bagpipes and plaid. I would definitely go back again!
Best of North Wales
Wow, I’ve seriously been lacking on this. I think it’s because I write about it in my personal journal and then don’t feel like repeating it/I forget/I know it will take time and I’m lazy. But while I avoid doing work on my final projects, it’s time to get caught up here!
A couple weekends ago my program had an Adventure Weekend in Llanberis, Wales and it was so much fun. We left on Friday afternoon and our crazy bus driver got us there really fast. Once we got to Northern Wales though, it was absolutely gorgeous. So many mountains and sheep. Fun fact: Wales has the highest concentration of sheep of any country. But just driving through there was breathtaking. We got to the hotel and checked in and I was supposed to have some random roommate but she never showed up so I got a whole double room to myself. Score! I killed some time flipping through the channels, trying to understand a Welsh sitcom and then went down to dinner. After we ate there was a pub quiz. It was my first pub quiz and it was really fun! Our team was only 4 people and most of the others were 6 or more so Team Ninja Python didn’t do that great. Some of the questions were so random though! I don’t know how some people knew this stuff.
Saturday morning we got up, had breakfast, then my first activity was to visit the Caernarfon Castle. It turned out to be a gorgeous day, the grass was so green and the sky was so blue. Our tour guide was awesome too, he talked like he was in a documentary or something and gave all kind of funny comments about being Welsh and how it was an English castle. He gave us a tour for about an hour and then we had an hour to explore the rest of the castle on our own. Let me tell you, castles have LOTS of steps and they love their narrow spiral staircases. But on top of those turrets were amazing views of the river and the rest of the city.
After the castle, we went back to the hotel for a packed lunch (which on all the sandwiches they put butter instead of mayonnaise.. kind of weird). Then Taylor and I went on a half day hike. I don’t know what I was thinking but hiking was a lot more intense than I thought it was going to be. I huffed and puffed up to the top of that abandoned slate mines. However, it was so worth it because the views were just breathtaking. I dont’ know if it’s normally like that or it was just the weather that weekend but the clouds covered the tops of the mountains and it was just so cool. Getting down the mountain was a lot easier than going up for sure. We then had a couple hours before dinner so we went back to our rooms and I showered because that hike made me all sweaty and gross. Then I flipped on the TV and they were playing a rugby match and I just couldn’t turn it off. I still don’t really understand all the rules but I watched that whole match and kind of loved it. Later that night there was a dance in the basement. When we first got there it was the whole stupid, I’m not going to dance cause that’s so lame, so everyone was just sitting around. But after a while, people drank more, cared less, and the music got better so we all got out there and danced. It was so much fun! We stayed until they kicked us out at midnight.
Sunday morning we got up early again for breakfast, check out, and then went into the town of Llandundo. Once we got there I got the impression it was a very seasonal town. It’s right on the bay and had lots of touristy shops and stuff but the only people there were over 60. We walked along the beach for a little bit, explored the shops, bought our souvenirs, and then headed back to the bus for the drive home. Overall, a very fun weekend with lots of great scenery. It was nice to take a trip and not be in a city.
Plans for April:
I’d say things are shaping up to be pretty awesome!
So remind me again why I don’t go to school at Oxford? I mean all the old buildings (it’s been a school since 1096), the history, the crazy rivalries and wacky traditions. Oh and not to mention all the sexy British men in suits and ties, khakis and cable knit jumpers.