wimbledon, london, england
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Grabbed tickets to Centre Court to see Rafael Nadal defeat Nicolas Kiefer.
worcestor college, oxford, england
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
worcestor college, oxford, england
Saturday, August 2, 2008
We've been here at Worcestor for six weeks and it's been absolutely amazing. Here are some pictures of the last week or so.
Thursday July 24 - Sunday, July 27, 2008
I think the pictures will speak more than I could. It was unbelievable.
another random collageSunday, July 6, 2008
Here is another random collage from Paris until Prague.
prague, czech republic
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Prague. What a city. I wasn’t too sure what there was to do in Prague – everyone just said that we have to go because it’s so much fun. We had to take a train to Gatwick then a flight into Prague, which was delayed, but we still got there at a decent hour. During the days we just walked around the city to sightsee, both in the new and old areas of town. We went out to a five story discotek one night and then to a beer house where you pour your own beer. While we were there five Storm Troopers (from Star Wars) came in. Apparently it’s a tradition in Prague to dress up on your birthday…we saw Superman later that night. It was pretty funny and we had a good time with it. We did eat T.G.I. Friday’s which was delicious (Jack Daniel’s baby back ribs) and Subway while we were there. There’s not as much to write about with these weekend trips as there was during the travel portion, so hopefully the pictures will give it its worth.
worcestor college, oxford & london, england
Thursday, June 26, 2008
We got into Oxford this past weekend. The campus is amazing; the oldest building I’ve heard of is from the 13th Century, but not all of them. I’m not sure how old the one I am staying in is. I’m going to go around and take pictures tomorrow after my exam, so I’ll get those up soon enough. I have Statics at 8:15 AM and Technology & Science at 1:15 PM. The HTS class is pretty cool. Our professor was asked to build an atomic bomb for South Africa, but he didn’t want to, so he left and got another PhD and now is writing the international history of NASA, for NASA. Pretty cool, huh? It’s an “ethics” class, so we’re looking into the Challenger and Columbia accidents along with the bombing of Iran later on. I think it’s pretty interesting stuff.
This past weekend we went into London to watch Wimbledon. We had class on Friday (only time we will) and went in Friday night. We walked around town the first night, then got up pretty early Saturday morning and headed over to Wimbledon. We waited in “The Queue” from like 9:00 to about 1:00 I’d say, and then we finally were able to buy tickets. We bought the ground tickets which allowed us to walk around to the side courts. We watched Junior’s, doubles, mixed doubles, Ladies and Gentlemen’s singles – everything there was to see. The side courts have 3-4 rows on either side of the court, so we got to sit front row to watch the matches. We were going to head home but Crupie, Plishka, and I decided to stay and see if we could upgrade our tickets – and we did! We got pretty lucky, too. Murray played in Centre Court for the 2nd (out of three) match of the day. He’s like England’s tennis hero, so after he left so did a good amount of people. So, some tickets became available and we got to see Rafael Nadal defeat Nicolas Kiefer on Centre Court…quite an experience. Plishka still has the pictures, but I’ll throw those up as soon as I get them.
Sunday we just walked around the city and saw the big sights. There was a “suspicious vehicle” alert while we were at Westminster Abbey, so they blocked off the street and brought out the bomb crew and did that whole ordeal, so we didn’t get to go inside or anything. We did, however, see Big Ben, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, the Imperial War Museum, and London Bridge, which was a bust. Apparently the bridge to go to is the London Tower Bridge…London Bridge is just a flat two lane bridge. So we got there and were all disappointed about it, and walked down to the right bridge, but it was 16 pounds to go up, so we decided to call it a day and head back to watch the Eurocup finals here at the campus pub (and then do homework until 1:00 AM...).
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I’m 50/50 on how I feel ending this trip in Paris. At first I thought it would be awesome because, well, it’s Paris – there is so much to see and there has to be great entertainment here. But now that I’m here, I wish we ended someone else...I feel like we’re not experiencing it to fullest because we have two finals tomorrow at 8:00 & 9:00 in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m having a blast, but it’s bittersweet when I think about schoolwork. I’m “studying” now just like I “studied” last night...
Wednesday night was pretty fun after our welcome dinner...fun and rather interesting. We had a huge group go to the “night life” area; myself and four others split off beforehand because getting things done in groups of 25 is just short of impossible. We ended up going to a dance club that was a lot of fun. Drinks were too expensive to buy, so we just danced and then headed home, got a few hours of sleep and had a double lecture the next morning. Some interesting things happened that I’ll be glad to tell absolutely anyone who asks, but it’s not going online for the world to see – remind me back in America. And about what happened to the other group...a different story at a different time. All I can say is what a crazy city. It was pretty cool walking around that night though; we were walking down a road and out of nowhere out popped the Eiffel Tower hidden in the dark, which was a cool sight. It was black on black but it was the Eiffel Tower...not something you see every day.
After music and art lecture the next day we went to d’Orsay museum around noon. This museum was probably the largest we’ve seen thus far, but nothing too crazy worth writing about. Had a cool clock in it about 25 feet tall or so, but nothing you’d find more interesting than that. We were supposed to have tickets to go see an Opera House tour (I think it was the one where The Phantom of the Opera came from) but yet again Georgia Tech messed up and we didn’t have reservations so that was scratched. I just came back here and caught up on a lot of e-mails and work from back in America.
We had a walking tour of the city yesterday (that’s where the pictures start off). It was the longest one yet, but Paris has so many things to see it was worth the while. We had to be at the Louvre at 5:45, and the walking tour ended around 1:00, so a group of us just stayed in the city and went to the Eiffel Tower. I always thought it would be a different color - it's brownish. We bought the tickets that let us go to both the second and the top level. Just for kicks I decided to get everybody’s attention on the top level and proposed to one of the girls we were with. There were “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” and then everyone started clapping. It was pretty funny, and now everyone there has a story to take back home. We were taking pictures in front of the tower about a half hour later and people would come up and be like “Hey, congrats, you two!” It was a good time. We went to The Louvre after that, seen as the Holy Grail of museums to our professor. It had to have come close to doubling the size of the d’Orsay we saw the previous day, or at least felt like it did. The most famous work we saw was probably the Mona Lisa. During the day it’s about an hour and a half wait to see it, but since it was around 8:00 at this time we had none. It’s not a very big painting at all, probably only 2 or 2.5 ft tall by a 1.5 or 2 ft wide. Before we went our professor asked us to take a look at it and decide what we think about it – I told him I thought it was the most overrated piece of artwork that I know of, not that I am an art fanatic or anything. He laughed and agreed. I have seen plenty or more talented pieces of art, just through this trip alone that trumps the Mona Lisa. I realize that there’s “mystery” behind and it’s said that Leonardo took it with him everywhere he went, but to me there is so much more out there to discover. Just my thoughts – I still think the coolest painting I’ve seen this trip is The Bottle of Bordeaux...I would want to put something like that above a pool table in the man room.
dijon and orleans, france
Thursday, June 19, 2008
We got into Paris last night after two full days on the bus. These two cities were filler cities for the long bus ride. Both are more or less the same: the hotel was in the middle of nowhere and nothing was open. The one thing we were supposed to see in Dijon, The Moses Well, has apparently been closed to the public. I did forget to try their mustard, though…I didn’t hear anyone say it was anything crazy. Everything else that was open closed before 7:00 PM, so there was literally nothing to do. We watched Grandma’s Boy and went to bed. We rode the bus the next day to Orleans. We stopped and saw Chateau Chenonceaux and then headed into Orleans. Exact same thing in Dijon, except for watching a movie we played cards for the better half of the night. The next day we boarded the bus to go to Paris, with two side stops; one was at Chateau Chambord and the other was at Chartres Cathedral. Check out the pictures for both of the chateaus and the cathedral. The chateaus are huge and the cathedral is famous for its stained glass, among other reasons. Paris should be much better than these two cities.
Thursday, June 16, 2008
We got into Munich the afternoon of the 13th and had a few hours to explore the city before the welcome dinner. Munich was very relaxed compared to Spain and Italy. The first night we walked around the city and went to a place called “Little Africa” (take if for what you will) and watched some soccer. The people here are insane about their soccer. After it was over, we went to a Biergarten to try some local brew. Most people stereotype Germans for drinking beer all the time and in mass quantities – it’s not a stereotype. Men, women, teens, everybody drink beer all day long. It’s like beer heaven. The first biergarten we went to was inside; it was like the cafeteria and Tech, except it was bigger and the only thing on the menu was beer and pretzels which made my decision quite easy.
The next day was a little bit more productive. We went to the Alte Pinokothek (art museum, mostly Renaissance and Baroque era) and to the Moderne Pinokothek (modern art). For the first time I enjoyed modern art; I didn’t know what was going on. Professor asked me what I saw in one painting, so I answered the obvious answer, an octopus. Turns out it symbolizes the fighting of different countries…guess I was wrong. But I still had a good time being god-awful at modern art the rest of the time. They had a BMW exhibit which I didn’t make because I was so enthralled with the zip tie exhibit. It was hands down the coolest thing I have ever seen. It was literally thousands of zip ties tied together to make furniture (look at the pictures). I fell asleep on the couch things. It was awesome. Another great thing that happened between the two museums was lunch. We had Subway, and it was beautiful. It smelled and tasted like Subway AND they had a fountain machine that I down-right abused. Anywhere in Europe a 11 oz. Coke is like 1,50 Euros. I had to of had 2 liters of Coke. As for that night, Margeaux has a friend that was an exchange student in America that lives in Munich, so he met up with us and took up to the famous Hofbrauhaus and then to the club that night. The clubs in Munich (and almost everywhere else) play American music, so naturally, it was a good time.
The only thing on our schedule the next day was music lecture (so captivating…). After that, those who wanted to went to Dachau. Dachau was one of the concentration camps during the war. I felt weird taking pictures and can’t really describe it; it’s just one of those things you have to see for yourself. That night we went to this huge park, some say larger than Central Park, to get some sausage and watch the game. Turkey ended up winning, and the city went crazy. I did not know there were so many Turkish people in Munich, but it was a city-wide traffic jam with people standing on their hoods waving the Turkish flag…nothing I’ve ever seen compares to the party that the city was having. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if Germany was playing and won while we were there.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I’m on the bus now to Munich listening to all of the music we have to learn for the final. For Venice, we stayed outside the city in Padua the “Alpharetta of Venice.” It was a 15 minute walk and a 40 minute bus ride from Venice. Traveling to the city everyday is starting to get old. I think we are in the city while in Munich. Padua, unlike some of the other outskirt cities we’ve stayed in, was not that bad. Its economy had to revolve around shopping…I’m pretty sure the only type of store they had was designer clothing. I didn’t make it out to look at anything but some people found some descent deals. Being that it is this way, the people were much more attractive, better dressed, and smelt better than any other city we’ve been to…and probably will go to.
On Tuesday we didn’t leave Padua for anything. The Scrovegni Chapel was about a 15 minute walk from our hotel so that was our activity for the day. It was built in the early 1300s as a gift by a son to pay for his father’s sinful life. It was and probably will be the most controlled environment we will be in. We had to sit in a chamber for 15 minutes so they could regulate the temperature then went through a hallway to get into the chapel, where we only had a brief 30 minutes. The chapel was hurt during WWII but most of it has been restored. The rest of the day we caught up on some work and then hit the plazas at night.
Wednesday we headed into Venice around 9:00 AM. Venice is a jam packed town with tiny streets that is slowly sinking. It’s a tourist trap, which means it’s crowded and expensive, but it was well worth it. The first day we got there we went to the Accademia art gallery, a small art gallery that contains works mostly from the Venice School of Art from way back in the day. After we left that we had some free time then headed over to the Peggy Guggenheim collection of modern art. We had 2 hours to visit this collection (needed about 30 minutes) but there was a small back deck overlooking a canal that we found. Slowly the entire group found it and we hung out there instead of looking at modern art. I don’t get modern art…I would much rather look at something that I understand and can interpret instead of like 3 different squares on a canvas. I could paint 3 squares, but I’m not famous. If you look at the pictures the black and whites are from the back deck…some of the better shots I’ve gotten this trip, I think. It was a pretty long day, we were out for about 12 hours and it was blazing hot.
After lecture Thursday morning, we had a free day until 9:00 PM. We went back to sleep after lecture then finished up our work. A small group of us headed into Venice a little after 1:00 PM and walked around the city the rest of the day. We didn’t make it to the glass island, where they blow the glass and make a bunch of cool stuff – almost anything you could think of. Nighttime rolled around and we went to see concert in a very small church. They performed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and 2 other works. I thought it was the best by far; much better than the opera and the Flamenco we saw in Spain. The concert only had 5 violinists, a cellist, bassist, and a pianist.
Padua has a lot of plazas where the college students hang out. The last boat leaves Venice at 11:40, so instead of going into the city and spending way too much money, we just hung out in these plazas at night, which was a good change from walking around the city. Wednesdays and Thursdays are the university nights in Padua, so naturally we went to see how they go about this. It was ridiculous. We stayed in and did a little work Thursday night before the bus ride today (art analyses are due on bus rides) but Wednesday was something else. We were wondering around and heard some music so we turned the corner and there were hundreds of students in the plaza. We ran into a few people from our group and they said it didn’t even compare to the hour before we came…said there were easily over a thousand. Most of the people were just standing around and mingling, but there were some groups that had drumming contests and would make it up as they go, which was a lot of fun to watch. There would be four or five people in a circle and if you wanted in you just let the guy playing the drum you wanted and he would step out and you could play for awhile. We watched that for awhile then I met some Italians and we threw around the Frisbee. They were pretty chill nights but they were still pretty fun.
orvieto, italy (day trip)
Thursday, June 5, 2008
We stopped at this small town to see a cathedral on the way from Florence to Rome.
random collage from florence
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Here is a random collage from the first two weeks and a panoramic from Florence.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Last day in Rome was today, and the few days we’ve been here have been exhausting. It feels like we have been here for a solid week and a half, but it's only been a few days. We got here June 5 and walked around the city to knock out the traditional walking tour. It was stopped short when we learned we had to pay for some things (which we ended up paying for today…figures) but it was still nice to get out and see the city. Rome is an awesome place; food is good, the people speak OK English, and there is a ton of stuff to see…paintings and more preferably architecture. Later the first day we went to the Borghese estate, which was absolutely gigantic, to see the family’s collection of paintings and sculptures. The Borghese had loads of old money and eventually were Popes, and with that they had the power to do whatever the pleased. When they ran out of money, the people of Rome paid for their new houses and paintings and what not. We grabbed dinner after the Borghese estate and walked over to the Auditorium to Paesaggi Spagnoli (a symphony that was pretty good). In the pictures you can see the inside of the auditorium. No microphones were used…it was all perfect acoustics which was kind of cool.
Yesterday we rushed over to get to the Vatican early, and it was well worth it. There are a few pictures of some famous Vatican things (the pinecone and the gold sphere). The pictures inside are a bit blurry because we cannot use a flash inside almost any historic building. The picture of a picture and a statue has a little history. It was excavated after a man found it digging, and the man did not have his right arm, so for some reason (I forget why) they re-created the arm according to what they thought it was supposed to look like. Many years later an American was in a thrift/pawn shop and saw an arm in the back. Ironically, he was into sculptures and knew what it was, so he bought it, took it to the Vatican, and finally a few years after that they attached the real arm to the sculpture, but never took a new photograph. I thought it was pretty cool. Anyway…after the Vatican we walked next door to St. Peter’s Basilica. The churches run together, but this one was much taller than the rest. St. Peter is buried there…that’s about all I know.
Today we woke up and toured a handful of churches (awesome…) around the city then finished our walking tour from the first day. I stopped to tie my shoe and lost the group, so I didn’t get in the Pantheon, but caught up with them before the Coliseum tour. Since we chose to do the Coliseum tour on our own, Professor “Pirate” Pearsall (another story) wasn’t there and we paid 10 Euro for a “45 minute personal guide.” Apparently the trick is to not pay for a guide and then tag on to a group walking around. So our 15 paid person group turned into about 40 people; the guide was awful, so we left the tour, took a few pictures, and headed out…I’m a little disappointed that we fell for the tourist trap on that one. We load the bus tomorrow at 8:30 for Venice, which I hear is even better.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Florence was a pretty cool place. We didn’t have any operas or concerts we had to go to, just a few museums each day. The first day we had anything we went to see the Santa Maria del Carmine, the Duomo, and a walking tour. The Duomo was built in the middle of the city and took 200+ years to complete from start to finish. It’s the biggest building you’ll see in the pictures. On the third we saw the Medici Chapel and the Bargello, which were OK, and the next day we went to the Uffizi and then Academia, which is where David is. David was probably the best sculpture we’ve seen this trip. Michelangelo worked on in every day for years, and it stands probably 25 feet tall from base to top. The crazy thing is that there was a replica made the exact same way that stands in the town square, exactly the same in every dimension. To end our “school portion” we climbed a mountain/small hill in the corner of the city for, one might say, the best view of the city. And we had the first wallet stolen of the trip this week.
Italy is a lot better than Spain. The food is great, every person speaks Italian and English, and they are a lot more welcoming to people like us that only know broken Italian. They are a lot more trustworthy when it comes to meals and actually paying for it; they just trusted that everybody would just come back in the restaurant (because you sit outside) and pay for their food and drinks. There are no bills or tickets, you just throw them a little money and they say it’s OK. I paid different amounts for two same meals from the same restaurant than other people on the trip.
Speaking of, the markets are great. There are so many booths that you can literally talk anything down to a really good price. I got 5 solid Italian made ties for 3 Euro each, a leather dress belt for 15 Euros, and a wallet for 6.. I got in free to the pub crawl we went to (which was free drinks at 4 pubs and free cover to the disco-tek and the crawl itself) because I “organized the group that went on the crawl.” I think I am going to do that from now on out. The only downfall to Florence (and Barcelona) is the location of the hotel. I don’t know why they booked us so far from the city, but when went out after the bus routes closed it cost us close to 40 Euro each way. That’s where all of my money is going…getting to and from the hotel.
Funny things…Courtney got ran over by a scooter, the Turner Field Elite was born, and we learned all about “tater logs.” All inside jokes I suppose, but I am going to start writing them down everyday so I will remember.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Got on the bus at 8:30 this morning, and just got here in Florence at 7:30 PM. We took a detour to Nimes last night to see an aqueduct and then we stayed there for the night. It’s a pretty small town about 4 hours from Barcelona with not too much going on. Most of us just walked around the town and then called it a night. We have our welcome dinner in 30 minutes, and then we’re free explore the city until tomorrow morning.
Friday, May 30, 2008
We only spent one night here and looked at an aqueduct. It was a small peaceful city with not too much going on.
Friday, May 30, 2008
We didn’t make it to the ice bar last night. In fact, after we ate at the Hard Rock (100% AMERICAN) we walked around for about an hour, and then headed back to the hotel. For some reason they booked a hotel that is a 20 minute bus ride and then a 15 minute subway ride to downtown Barcelona, where all of our tours and what not are. I ended up staying up until about 5 AM doing schoolwork to Friday afternoon, our free day.
After class on Friday morning, we had the day to ourselves. Crawshaw, a few girls, and I went to the beach off the Mediterranean Sea. We ended up meeting up with about 15 others. Americans stick out like a sore thumb, so we immediately noticed a group of about 5 near us. We talked to these guys and a few more groups; ended up meeting study abroad students from Mississippi, Michigan, Oklahoma, and one more spot – I can forget. Probably 40 students total from around the U.S., which was pretty cool. The beach sand is more like dirt, and you get asked to buy cokes, beers, massages, and tattoos (read all: drugs) literally every five minutes from people that walk up and down the beach. Putting that to the side, the beach was a great day. Last night we went back downtown and then taxied back to get on the bus this morning (it’s Saturday right now) to head to Nimes, France.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
We woke up this morning and got breakfast at 7:00 and went to class at 8:30. Class ended at 9:35 and we needed to get on the bus at 9:45. Crupie and I walked outside at 9:50 to see the bus driving away and everyone yelling at the driver. It kept on going. Missing an excursion more than one time is a letter grade deduction, so we trekked across Barcelona to where the group was going. As luck would have it, we went to the completely wrong corner of the map. We had a great time though; we bought tickets to the fortress and made our own tour, and got some great pictures. We eventually went to the other side of the city to meet up. We grabbed lunch in a tapas restaurant and got lunch and a few drinks while we waiting on the other 46 people. It was the first meal that was do-able, a very well cooked burger. After we met up we toured Gaudi’s Casa Mila Apartments…apartments that are more or less passed down through the family tree and not available to be bought. They were built in 1905 and were so called trendy for the day…there is not one corner in any of the rooms. Everything in the interior and on the exterior is curved. Then we walked a few blocks over to a church that was started in 1880 something, and it still being built, and will continue to be built for another 20 years. It was absolutely ridiculous at the architecture of this church. Right now we are fixing to head over to downtown Barcelona to eat at the Hard Rock for some student discounts and then for some nightlife. Apparently there’s a pub that’s made out of ice that is 60 degrees below zero. You get a special coat or something to wear when you go in so you can still function…ought to be interesting to see how that goes.
toledo, spain (day trip)
Monday, May 26, 2008
We had our first half of a music class this morning. It was cut short by Fitz sharing with the class what he had for breakfast, twice, in the middle of the classroom (hotel conference room). It was probably one of the funniest things I have ever witnessed, but our professor was not that pleased. After we got back to our rooms, we dropped off our books and took a the bus ($1,50 Euros per liter by the way) to Toledo today to see El Greco’s “Burial of Count of Orgaz.” It was pretty cool. After we checked that out, we had 2 or so hours free to walk around. The city is very, very cluttered. I swear the people there drive wherever they want, whether it actually be a road or not. The architecture, on the other hand, is awesome. There is not a modern building in sight, and it is all cobblestone roads and old-time brick buildings. Crawshaw put together a panorama that I’ll put up here soon.
When we got back to Madrid, we got tickets to a Flemenco – Spanish style singing and tap dancing – show. Compared to my latest concert in America, it’s day and night. It’s a combination of off-beat music and loud, not our style singing. The guitarist was really good, and the tap dancer was nuts, but the combination didn’t go that well together. But I’m here for the culture, and that’s as Spanish as the music and dancing here gets.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Classes started today. We have one a day Monday-Friday of the week, each an 8 AM, which makes being out until 2 or 3 AM everyday pretty rough. Our classes in Madrid were in a hotel about 400 meters away from our actual hotel, which is really nice. It’ll cost you about 300 Euros a night if you’re paying straight up. All of the hotels we stay at have breakfast at 7 AM, which is well worth getting up for. For the most part, I eat as much as I can there, because the food in Madrid is absolutely horrible. A hamburger is literally cooked (and by cooked, I mean that everything here is rare) ham between two pieces of bread (read: mold). They did have a McDonalds, which was descent, but I wanted to get out and “try new things.” Should have just gone to McDonalds and got a burger.
So, a little about this place… The Spanish culture is very relaxed, which is even more so to us Americans. It takes some getting used to. Nothing is open from about 2 AM to 5 or 6 PM, because they all go home for the siesta. They leave work to go and sleep. I think this is an amazing idea; it’s already implemented in Georgia Tech’s co-op and internship programs. I will be bringing this back to America. Madrid has people cleaning it 24/7 in bright green reflective suits, but it still feels pretty dirty. The younger people speak a little English, but for the most part I’m pulling words out of the bank from high school; my bank has apparently been robbed. Ten years of Spanish hasn’t done that well for me. “Hamburguesa con carne” is my most used phrase. I’ve stopped ordering Coke, seeing how Coke is more expensive than water. And water is more expensive than beer. And beer is more expensive than wine, which really hurts at lunch. The average food price, which is more or less a boccadilla de jamon y queso (ham and cheese sandwich) is about 5 Euros, which is about 7.75 American dollars. And that’s just the sandwich – if you want water, you may get lucky and have tap water, but if not bottled water is going to cost you about 3 Euros.
Today was pretty busy. We started with class and then went immediately to the Prado Museum, which for the artsy people has Descent from the Cross, Garden of Earthly Delights, and Las Meninas, to name three. Art is much, much better in person, if you know a little about its history. We left Prado and went to the Sofia Museum, which is much more modern. Modern art is some of the dumbest stuff I have ever seen. The Prado was much more interesting than looking at 3 different color squares on a canvas, symbolizing something or another. We did see Guernica though, which is a great Picasso piece. I left to the Sofia about 30 minutes early to catch up on my sleep, which had been far and in between thus far. I knocked out a little school work and then passed out until the Opera.
We went to see Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at Teatro Real (Real Theater a.k.a. Opera House). Showing up “late”, my buddy and I were given some of the last tickets that our group had; unfortunately we were stuck with 65 Euro tickets on the balcony while the rest of the group was stuck with 6 Euro nosebleeds – oh, the irony. Nonetheless, no one in our group could really see what was going on. We could hear it being sung, in Latin, and were fortunate enough to get the translation on a screen above the stage, in Spanish. So, we just read through the abstract and kind of made up what was going on with what we saw, which actually was not that bad. Opera isn’t really my type of thing, but studying the history of it prior to seeing it made it a lot better, you could even say interesting, which you would have never heard me say three weeks ago.
After class, the museums, and the opera, we were free for a little fun. We found a balcony off of the eighth floor and relaxed on it for awhile before hitting the town. Up there, we found a bull costume in a room marked “Privado” (or private, but we’re ignorant Americans, right?) and had our own bull fight on the sidewalks. The bull occasionally got loose and chased some Madridians – it’s pretty funny to watch these people run from a bull at 11 PM when it’s dark enough to not know if it’s fake at first glance. I thought it was hilarious…the locals were not amused.
atlanta to madrid
Friday, May 23, 2008 & Saturday, May 24, 2008
We started today with a 9 hour flight to Amsterdam where we had a lay over, and then we took a flight to Madrid. Jet lag is definitely killing all of us. The plane ride wasn’t bad at all; KLM had games and movies for each person in the headrest of the person if front of you. I did however offend a number of people within my first day of non-American travel, along with losing a few hundred dollars of merchandise. The flight from Amsterdam to Madrid was about 2 hours or so, and I hadn’t slept on the flight across the Atlantic, so I was happy to know I was going to be able to play music from my iPod and get some sleep. About a half-hour into the flight, a busy flight attendant walked by me, knocking my iPod off of my lap…no big deal, right? No. She then stepped on it, cracking the screen, completely ruining a brand spanking new, the world of my entertainment for the next 6 weeks of bus rides, iPod. So, I was ready to get off the planes and into a hotel where I knew no more of my stuff would be thrown away or broken. When we did get settled into the hotel (and it took forever) we had a city tour and a welcome dinner (which we’ll have the first night at every city) and then we were freed to explore for the night.
wednesday, july 29, 2009
In my last few days now in the UK. Here is a picture of the family who has been hosting me; literally could not have asked for a better family! These people are the best in Berwick hands down.
saturday, july 25 (- sunday, july 26), 2009
Ooooook, I am going to try to keep this short. We weren't too busy at the hostel so took a day trip to Edinburgh. I stood in like for about 30 minutes to get a ticket (but I had Yes Man so it was all ok, haha; by the way, a classic case of movie remake is horrible compared to the book) and went to the Edinburgh Castle first thing when I got there. Joined a guided tour of the castle (for free!) and then wandered around by myself. A few blocks, if that, from the castle there is a whiskey tour. I felt as if I owed it to Whiskey to go, so I went. They put me in this barrel that spun around and I went on a virtual your of how whiskey was made. It was horrible. But then I got off and got put in a room and sat in front of a table with 4 bottles and a tasting glass on it. Each bottle was flavored as a type of Scottish Whiskey and some lady gave a history lesson on how each type is made. Then we chose which type we wanted and were led into a new room......whether or not you like whiskey, 3,500 bottles of it is impressing. 3.500 bottles of anything is impressing. So that was pretty cool. After the whiskey thing, I walked down the Royal Mile to Arthur's Seat. Let me rephrase. I walked down the Royal Mile past a few retaurants without eating anything in a few hours and got to the END of it where Arthur's Seat was then I walked back up the Royal Mile to get some food and then I walked back down the Royal Mile to climb Arthur's Seat. And being the fast walker I am, with loads of people on the street that was an adventure by itself. Anyway, I get to the base of the hill/mountain thing and there is The Gathering: the second largest festival in Edinburgh each year. Great. I have to go to this. I cannot afford the entry fee, so I wait until there is a group and "slip in" with them. Fantastic. The Gathering is literally thousands of Scots who come together to cook food, sell stuff, party, and play the bagpipes; it was pretty fun. When that's getting over I head across the street and start making my way up Arthur's Seat. Twenty minutes later I am still making my way. A bit later, yep, still making my way. I get to the top and eat my lunch (Subway, haha) and pick up where I left off in Yes Man until I am interrupted by some stalker man trying to pick up a Polish girl. I "read" my book while I listen. I'm feeling in the spy mood here. This guy is creepy if I have ever seen it, a slow talker from Florida. He spits his "game" for about twenty minutes then asks to help the girl down the Seat. She agrees. So, I pack my things and follow them down convinced he is going to pull a Taken on this girl. I literally follow them watching this poor guy try and try again until she finally phones her friend and they split ways. I'm almost positive I would have prevented an abducting if he had tried......
It is 7 in the morning as I write this. I HATE body clocks... I leave the stalker and head to Calton Hill, where I've decided it would be nice to watch the sunset before I hop on the 10p train. [2.5 hrs later] Angela texts me: "Are you on the train now." No! I am smart. I looked up all of the train times and the last one is at 10p, therefore I've maximized my time in Edinburgh. You funny local you. "No, I am at Calton Hill watching the sunset." "Sunset" by the way. The sunset happens at like 10 at night in Scotland. My phone stars ringing "Patrick, you missed the train." "No, Angela, I looked it up online, I'm good to go." "Oookkk....see you tomorrow, hahaha."
She was right.
I am now pleading with the train line employees to send a train to Berwick, like that will work. It's light outside still, it's like 9p. Things are supposed to work and be open when it's light outside! Nothing, nothing is going near Berwick. Why!? Oh yeah, where is Berwick-upon-Tweed? I forget. Oh yeah. The middle...of...nowhere. Don't get me wrong, this place is awesome, but it's literally all by itself. I am informed that there may be a bus heading there, so I get directions and sprint to the bus station. So by any other terms I jogged. I get to the door, catch my breath, and read the sign: "Closed." That's all, no "go here or there or opening time." "Closed." But it was supposed to be open. This is fantastic! And in the sprinting I apparently asked for the bright sun to go away and it is now very dark, just like that. So I ask around and get directions to the other door around the block and head over. I get there and it is packed with people. There is one person working behind a table and all of the tills are closed. It's about 9:30p now. He informs me that there is one bus to Berwick at 10p. YES! He then informs me that it is full and there is already a waiting list. Turns out the "bus to Berwick" is actually to London so there is about a 2% chance I get on this bus. Nonetheless, I put my name on the list and wait. The guy in front of me sees FIJI on my shirt and asks "oh, have you been?!" all excited and what not. I am slightly annoyed at this point but politely reply "no, it is my fraternity at school." After I explain the beauty of Greek life, he lets me know he is from FIJI. My annoyance takes over mentally: "well screw you, buddy. I am from concrete and high rises and air pollution! I hope sea life dies and washes upon your shores down there in paradise!" I reply "oh, that's pleasant. I bet it's nice" and he decides it would be nice to tell me everything that makes FIJI absolutely fantastic. Time passes...there are open seats on the bus! I thought I was first in line but there were two buses and the people in front were for either bus. Two people in front of me inform the driver they are going to London, pay, and get on. My turn. Sweet. "Berwick, I am going to Berwick (but I say it as "barr-ick" to impress the driver)." "Sorry mate, I don't stop there." Perhaps he forgot where he is supposed to go. "No, no you do" pulling out my train map and pointing at the train line passing through Barr-ick. "No, mate...I DON'T" he said pulling out his map that had 'no stops tonight, straight to London' scribbled on it. Amazing! The one time anyone needs to get to Berwick they are doing nonstop service to London.
I leave the bus station and walk around for a bit. It's nearing 11p and I start thinking it would be a good time to find a hostel. I go to a handful with no luck and find one that is honest with me. With The Gathering in town, I am not going to find a hostel or hotel tonight. Everything has been booked for ages. It's only Scotland's second largest festival, no big deal, right!? I am handed a hostel map and proceed to call every-single-hostel on the map. I get some help. Hostels were calling hostels. Hostels calling hotels. Those hotels calling hotels and calling back with no luck. Booked. Booked. Booked. "Looks like you're on your own tonight, mate" laughs the hostel guy. Why are you laughing!? This is not funny. And then, lightbulb! I'll just take a cab back! ...150 pounds and a hearty laugh later (by the cab driver...) I decide "no thanks, I'll be homeless tonight."
And so I was. It's well past 11p when we get done calling every place. I've been in Edinburgh over 12 hrs now and am kind of tired, so I sit next to a homeless man named Dave and talk to him a bit. I learn "his story" and what not. We go to dinner at McDonald's together. Good times. I leave him for a bit and start walking around and suddenly I see a sign, glowing in the distance. "3 for the price of 2" pints. Brilliant! So I stop in to get some "sleep aid" considering I'd be on concrete tonight. A few hours pass by, blah blah blah, I am tired of typing now. I go meet Dave again but he tells me his name is Mark now. I'm a bit confused and head back to the pub, because I know what is going on there, unlike with my new friend Mave. Back inside, I meet some people in the pub. I explained my situation to them and they tell me to follow them to a hostel. This is good news. I start to follow them into a back alley with little light...I am positive I am fixing to be mugged, but whatever, they could have my 4 pounds and my BuzzCard and the $60 I probably have left on my debit card, haha. We keep walking and they point me to a dim light behind a big wall around the corner. I am definitely getting mugged. Whatever, I walk towards it, and it is a "hostel/apartment" thing (NOT listed on the trusty hostel map)! And horrible business location, mind you. Nonetheless, I sprint upstairs and they have one room and I take it, for the low price of like 30 pounds...
So 100 something pounds later I wake up, get my Camelback of things, and head towards the train station to return to Berwick. This story is a bit short but I had had the best and worst weekend of my life...LOTS of interesting people.
monday, july 20, 2009
I took the bus to Alnwick for the day, about an hour bus ride. Since there was only one family at the hostel Sunday night, I was done by 10a in the morning. The rest of the week every room is full except one, so I decided it would be a good time not only to do laundry but to squeeze in a day trip. Alnwick is about 30 miles south-southeast of Berwick (pronounced "Bare-rick" by the way). The castle was built in 1000 and was bought by the Duke of Northumberland around 1300, to that family it still belongs. It was the castle that they played quidditch in front of during the first Harry Potter movie and they have a timeline that ends in Barack Obama being elected the first black president of the states; how that incorporates into the castle I am not too sure, but everyone over here sure does love him...
friday, july 17 - sunday, july 19, 2009
Berwick-upon-Tweed and Holy Island, England
Kaitlyn was in town for the weekend. In Oxford, a lot of small groups went off to many different places, and some just stayed in Oxford to take a break from the constant travel. She hopped on a train and stayed here at Berwick Backpackers (though we did put her to work in the mornings making beds and helping us out!). But she was a good sport and did so willingly. One hundred per cent of the day Friday and most of the day Saturday, on and off, it rained. Angela (the owner of the hostel) said they had not seen a rain like that in a very long time, which I thought was surprising being northern England and what not, but she said it is normally never non-stop for over 24 hours, but normally just daytime showers. So on Friday, the hostel filled up with bikers and campers who had no place to go and everyone, including us, just stayed in for the night, watching movies and drinking hot tea.
We got up Saturday, did the morning room cleaning, and Angela gave us a lift to Holy Island, which is actually what Kaitlyn is studying in one of her classes, which was kind of cool. It made a nice topic for her weekly Medieval paper. There we saw Lindisfarne Castle and, well, that was about it. There was a priory as well. I feel sure the historian will write all about it, haha...she bought like 15 guide books after all. To get to Holy Island, you have to go between certain hours around...4 to 9a or between...5 to 8p-ish. Outside of those hours, the tide is in and the road is completely underwater. So, it's only an "island" half of the time! Even though there are warning signs everywhere, during the tourist months we were told that there is always a family who thinks they can make it before the tide comes in and the car gets stuck. This happens about once a week or two, and then they have to air lift it out of the water. BUT, if you get stuck you do get a free postcard (no joke...) as a joke I suppose.
This morning Angela's husband, Ian, cooked a big breakfast of sausage, eggs, toast, and some Irish meat (I think lamb intestine?). Then we hopped on a bike and cycled around town and to/through some beach area and then got back to the center square right as it started to sprinkle. It was a pretty fun weekend I would say. For now, I just took a break from my book and checking people in to grab some food and write this. I better get back to work.
thursday, july 16, 2009
Woke up today and checked some people out and cleaned some rooms. Then I hopped on the bike and did about a 3 hour ride around Berwick. That's literally all I did today. Last night, however, was fantastic. The lady who owns the hostel had her parents in town the past few days and it has been nice getting to know not only her family but her very Irish parents. It was pretty difficult to understand them. I felt like that dumb American who had to say "come again" on just about everything, but I don't think they could really understand me either. The family here is fantastic. Everything is going quite well.
tuesday, july 14, 2009
I had a few free hours today so I walked around town and took a few pics until my battery died (it was starting to rain anyway). The tripod paid off...you cannot make these type of edits with a single shot; you need 4-6 shots and they all need to be the exact same thing. Cameras cannot capture what you can do with a computer, but provide a good starting ground. So, I've been on the computer the past...8 or 9 hours working on these. I think they look pretty good, but these small versions are not nearly as good as the high res because you cannot see the detail. I am going to hit the rest of Berwick tomorrow and the castles this weekend. Panoramics are in the process, should be up soon. I am working on getting a better panormamic program.
monday, july 13, 2009
I'm in Berwick now...got here about 5:30p yesterday. This hostel/house is AMAZING. It is by far the nicest place I have stayed in while abroad and not in some mainstream hotel, and it beats a lot of those. There are two parts: the "hostel" which is still really nice if you look at the website and then across the courtyard is an actual house, where I live. I am in an attic that has been converted to a sweet room. I am definitely having one of these in my house. It does take my 3 flights of stairs to get here but it's well worth it. I have a bathroom which I share with the families son, Conor, who is a pretty cool guy. He is finishing up school here soon and then traveling the world for a bit. I haven't had a chance to take pictures around the town since it was a bit rainy all during the day, but hopefully it will clear up one of these days. I am going to head to the islands this weekend to check out all of the castles, etc. This place is literally the coast of the North Sea...a huge war town back in the day. So yeah, for picturs all I have now is a pano of my room. I did buy a tripod today and I am going to try to be able to make some HDR pictures on photoshop if the weather clears up. More to come.
sunday, july 12, 2009
I AM ON A TRAIN TO NEWCASTLE AND HAVE FREE WIFI. I have been to a lot of places in Europe and seen some cool things, but you literally can have Internet wherever you want in England. For free. I am making a pitstop in Newcastle to do the brewery tour and then will jump on a train to Berwick-upon-Tweed. I got up pretty early this morning and walked around Bath (train was at 9:13a).
saturday, july 11, 2009
Okay, so I ended up in Bath, after a bomb threat (we think) at Plymouth and a short layover/visit at Bristol (a great town). Unfortunately it rained most of the day, and because I only packed a small bag, I am without a rainjacket or umbrella. Whoops. I think this is going to be my pitstop between Newcastle and then Berwick upon Tweed, where I'll work at the hostel. I have been e-mailing Angela, the owner, and she seems much more than very friendly.
I got into Bath around, I don't know, perhaps noontime. I walked around for about 90 minutes trying to find a place to stay. Some of the hotels wanted 95 quid for the night and quite frankly I cannot afford that. I did get lucky and found a place at the YMCA for only 20. It is me, some local British guy, a girl from Japan, and an empty bed as of now. I went to Abbey Church and then to, of course, the Roman Baths. Bath is quite a picturesque town. If you have been reading and viewing the photographs thus far, you must know I am quite a fan of panoramics. I added three for both Newquay and Bath. And for the people reading not from the majestic town of Albany, I took the picture of Westgate Street because I live on Westgate Drive down back home. I actually just send Kate an e-mail saying you cannot get too far from home. I was on the train and the man across from me was reading Cloud Atlas (one of her favorite books). It is funny no matter where you go you find things that remind you of where you're from.
So now I am now at a pub in Bath about 90 seconds from the YMCA. It has free WiFi, and considering the YMCA's is 50p for 15 minutes, this seems like a pretty good deal. A social environment and Internet...2 of my favorite things together in one place, this is the place for me. I'm at a 4 person table and have had all kinds of conversation tonight, anywhere from breaking bad news to close friends and the English tax and immigration laws, and many more. People have come and gone but I've been here for a few hours now taking advantage of the free WiFi. Not quite sure what tomorrow will bring, but the alarm is set for 8:15a. Perhaps Newcastle, perhaps Hadrian's wall. Again time will only tell.
friday, july 10, 2009
I made a map in Photoshop with stars of where I have been, so perhaps that will help you identify where I am currently when I write a something new. It'll now be the first picture in each city, however, there may be only 2-3 cities left.
Where to begin? For those who are following where I think I am going each day, plans change. Well, no, I suppose that's why I always say I think I may go to a certain city. I was on the train to Penzance, which is about a 5 hour ride from Oxford. It is literally the most south west you can be in England. It's got some great beaches on the mainland and 5 unhinabited islands about 30 miles from the shore. My plan was to go and hike a few of the islands and set camp for the night. Well...I took the train from Oxford to Reading and then got onto the train to Penzance and man, was it literally slammed. There was standing room only...standing room only on a 5 hour journey. Great. I found myself parked with 3 British girls and in the midst of about 23, I counted, British men, all from Woodford. I say men because these guys are about 30 years old. For the record they thought I was 26 and British so that's a win for me there. Nonetheless, they were taking a weekend trip to Newquay for their mate's bachelor party. We all started chatting and I made a few quick friends. Before I knew it, I was changing trains with them and on the way to Newquay. No place to stay, no plans, no knowledge of the area, but lads who apparently know what's going on. We get there and I grab a drink at their hostel and shoot a game of pool. I throw my stuff in their room, get offered a room (half price, but it was the room of one of their friends...great friends they must be...), and end up going out with them that night. CRAZY night. Very fun. I get woken up at 7a to go surfing on the beach, and the guy's whose bed I was in was sleeping on the floor (and to think he paid for it), haha. We hit the beach for a bit and now I am going to grab a train for, well, I am not too sure, but I think I want to end up around Bath. Perhaps more north and check out Manchester?
thursday, july 2 - sunday, july 5, 2009
Last summer I was able to hit all of the "touristy" spots in London, like Big Ben, etc. This time it was a bit different I enjoyed myself much more than last summer. Kaitlyn is the lawyer to be so we went to Old Bailey which is called Central Criminal Courts to watch a trial. The trials are open to the public during the day. Taking this from her blog because I am lazy..."It was entirely un-touristy but that’s probably because it’s just too boring for most tourists to care to see…regardless, I thought the entertainment abounded. We sat in bleacher like wooden seats above the courtroom, situated to protect the anonymity of the witnesses but with a full view of the judge, attorneys, and defendant. The attorneys, who have to wear sweeping black robes and powdered white wigs, were a little archaic. The case we saw was outrageous to say the least and hearing the old men, in their full get-ups, reading some of the defendant's statements was beyond hilarious, especially with the British accents." I am not too confident about writing what the trial was about, but I do recall it in full recollection and will tell back in the states. It was quite entertaining. When we did get out, we saw tens of camera men waiting for another trial to adjourn. Turns out an aquitted defendant from a trial 7 years prior to this year was tried and convicted. It was all over the papers. We were there when the victim's family came out and watched them give statements and be interviewed. That's kind of cool I suppose.
Again copying this..."Friday we took advantage of the theater-deprived youth of London, who have apparently caused the government to implement free theater tickets to anyone under 26." London: 0, Me: 3ish. I'm loving the free entertainment here. We saw the live play Observe the Sons of Ulster in a pretty tiny theatre right out of central London. It was good, had a completely unforshadowed twist, and I felt a bit "cultured" as we left.
Saturday & Sunday were pretty busy days. Among the highlights were the National Gallery, the Museum of London and the British Library. The British Library almost has the largest collection, second to our Library of Congress. There we were able to see two original Gutenberg bibles, the original Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre, Beowulf, the Canterbury Tales, the Magna Carta, da Vinci's notebooks, Beethoven's manuscripts (along with numerous other composers), et cetera. It was pretty cool. The books in that room have changed the world as we currently know it. da Vinci's notebook was opened to the pages where he was studying friction and pulleys, which I thought was fantastic. After the British Museum we went to the Roxy Bar and Screen, a little local gem hidden off a random Underground stop. It's some old bar or something. They've hung red velvet like drapery all along the walls (like a movie theater) and have candles and dimly lit lamps alongside it. In the front there is a huge screen and we watched the Wimbledon finals (poor Roddick) on their projection screen. It was awesome. For 20-25 pounds a year, you can become a member to this place and view the showings (almsot everyday) whenever you want for free. And they show the same stuff-ish that is in theaters. I've already searched for a backdoor cinema in Atlanta...
thursday, july 2, 2009
After I woke up drenched in sweat, I tried to take a shower, but not packing any toiletries or a towel, it was more of a "rinse off." Considering I literally have no money, I attempted to hike the 6 mile walk out to Greenwich, but the my sandal was tearing into my foot, so I bought some wrap and hopped on the train instead. I got like halfway so it kind of counts. My goal for Thursday was to head to each corner of London and hike the biggest hill possible to see which had the best view. I figured it would be a nice place to hang out at night and Greenwich has the Royal Observatory so I thought it would be a good place to start. Greenwich is a pretty small town south of central London, a small town where the "tourist sites" are completely free. Score. I toured some royal homes, the National Maritime Museum, the Prime Meridian, the Royal Observatory, an astronomy collection, and a few more things. Pretty good time for a Tech nerd.
After the Royal Observatory, I headed towards north of central London to Primrose Hill. Definitely the best view. That took the majority out of the rest of the day and then I went to the Underground Station (King's Crossing which is where Platform 9 3/4 is...) accross from the place I were staying to see the Oxford people come in. I was quite happy to be able to see the guys and more so Kaitlyn. We went back and put everyone's stuff away. I grabbed my first meal of the day (the whole no money thing), walked around, and then crashed out of pure exhaustion.
tuesday, june 30 - wednesday, july 1, 2009
Okay, finally. I headed to the airport and flew out of Atlanta on the 6:40a flight. That was a 59 minute flight to Cincinnati where I had a sweet TWELVE hour layover. Not too keen on sleeping in airports, so I walked around and watched a few Wimbledon matches. Airports are busy, loud, and expensive and aren't the best for a low budget trip and an eager traveler. Nonetheless, I did get to fly first class into London on the 7:55p flight that evening; it was awesome. Three course meal, drinks, personal tv, 180 degree chairs, footrests...the works. I got into London Gatwick around 9a local time and breezed through customs. I hoped on the first train I saw and it eventually took me, ironically, to Salisbury. So, around lunch time I am walking around in this small town and grab a burger and a beer and watch Federer play with a few locals. After lunch I jump on the bus and head to Stonehenge. A bit smaller than I expected but still impressive nonetheless. I wandered around Salisbury and the country side for a few more hours and then around 6 or 7p I jumped on the train for Waterloo. I finally get to the hostel where I am staying. It's about 80 degrees and the room for 4 is about as big as my cubby at FIJI. After 60 hours and only 3 hours of sleep, I am happy to be able to take off my 50 or so pound bag and take a breather for the night. The sleep was okay but in the morning I cancelled my stay and got a room at the hostel with all of the other people for the remainder of the weekend.