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Viva
31 January 2011 @ 10:07 am

So, classes started today. 

We had a long weekend of orientation, new students arriving, new students being late (because flights were canceled due to weather and they were stuck in Newark), and the mass hysteria that ensued. Everything is starting to settle down now and my probably-going-to-hopefully-be-official class schedule is as follows:

-Undergraduate dissertation with Gerry Mooney. I will most likely be discussing the global competition of stem cell research and its impact on Scotland.

-Independent study with Kelly Dwyer

-Scotland:Heritage and Culture with Gerry Mooney

-Internship on the Dalkeith Estate

-Business Management

-World Music

...As you can see my class schedule is all over the freaking place, but that's okay as I'm quite excited for all my classes this time around!

 

As I stated in my last post, I went to York with my host mum. York is a small town in England that is home of the Yorkshire Terrier, York Mints, Yorkshire Ham, and Yorkshire pudding. It is also the original "New York." Anyways, it was an amazing, cute little town! It has one of the biggest Cathedrals in all of Northern Europe and maintains many of its original buildings called "The Shambles." The Shambles are some of the most photographed streets in the UK and consist of beautiful buildings from as early as the 14th century. There, they have many local shoppes that sell things like homemade chocolate/fudge, art pieces, wool clothing, and much more. I ended up buying a t-shit that has "STAY CALM AND CARRY ON." along the front with the Royal Crown. If you know anything about World War II, you may know where that phrase originates from. We also went to the Yorkminster Cathedral, which I mentioned above, and had tea at one of the many tea houses around the city. Tea was incredibly expensive there, as much as 3.45 pounds (6 dollars) per cup because it is so high quality, or, something... It tasted nice, but I'm not sure it was six dollars nice... hm. Anyways, we (I forgot to mention that we is my host mum Virginia, host dad Steve, and myself) got to walk on top of the old city walls. That was cool as it gave us a way to see a lot of the town.

 

Probably the best story from York was, however, when we were heading towards the castle. We saw a whole bunch of signs pointing to the castle/castle museum and everything. We were walking, walking, walking and when we finally arrived, we found that this "castle" was only a small portion of the remaining castle called Clifford's Tower. The Tower was about the size of a double decker-bus and was circular. It wasn't big at all! It also ended up being three pounds to get in... a little disappointed, we did not go in. So, instead, we went to a Wetherspoons bar and had a drink. (: 

 

Anyways, here are pictures from Christmas/Hogmanay and York:

http://omgitsviva.myphotoalbum.com/

 
 
Current Location: Dalkeith Palace
Current Mood: busybusy
Current Music: Lucid Dreams - Franz Ferdinand
 
 
 
Viva
07 January 2011 @ 04:33 pm

I haven't updated in quite a while because I've been so busy/sick.

So, for a recap of the past weeks: 

The week before Christmas I got the flu. It was cold, snowing like mad, and a lot of Scotland got shut down due to the weather. Heathrow (the world's largest international airport) was closed down for three days. They had so many people stuck at the airport that they made a new rule that people could no longer sleep at the airport. I even had a couple of friends who were stuck in London for seven days because of delays and cancellations! Luckily, I was at home in Dalkeith with the flu. I got better over Christmas and spent Christmas weekend with two wonderful families: My host family and my resident director's family.

At my host family's, we (my host mum, my host dad, and my host aunt  and uncle) ate tons of yummy food, played the wii, and hung out and drank a lot of tea. I spent the night at their place for Christmas Eve and we got to do things like "Crackers." Crackers are a British Christmas tradition and they are these little pipe-shaped like toys that you can buy. Then, one person pulls at one end and the other person pulls at the other. The Cracker will then break at one of the ends and the person who gets the oval shape "wins." The Cracker, when bursts, make a large pop and inside you get this dorky little paper hat, a random prize, and a horribly bad joke. The prizes are silly, I got: a nailclipper in one and a key and lock in another.

Christmas Day I took a taxi back to the Dalkeith house where I had dinner with my resident director Patty, Natalie, and some of their family. It was delightful! We had a nice dinner (It was lovely!), we opened some of our presents, and we watched some TV. My Christmas was absolutely wonderful all in all and I really enjoyed it.

A couple of days later, I went over to my host parents' again for Hogmanay. Hogmanay is Scotland's New Year's Celebration and is several nights of fireworks, parades, carnivals, and parties. All along Prince's Street (one of the busiest streets in Edinburgh) they have markets, a ferris wheel and other rides then on a street nearby, they have a street carnival that has a lot of the same rides as, like, the Baraboo Fair. At midnight, lots of people released burning Chinese lanterns and the entire castle was booming with fireworks. It was gorgeous to see because my host parents' flat in situated so you can see the whole horizon and the Edinburgh castle perfectly. Although I didn't go to the Hogmanay street party (a HUGE party right on Prince's Street that practically closes the entire town down), majorly because I didn't feel comfortable going by myself, I did go to a thing called the Torchlight Procession. The Torchlight Procession was really cool-- everyone bought a Torch for five quid and then we all lit them and several hundred thousand of us walked with out burning torches throughout the whole city at night. The Torchlight Procession was also record breaking in size! Woohoo!

 

I also made a New Year's resolution-- and idea that was given to me by my host-mum: Try something new every month.

For January, I tried to start doing digital art and I found I am loving it! You can keep up with my art here:

http://omgitsaviva.deviantart.com/

I'll be posting pictures from Christmas and Hogmanay soon, but I need to get some things done for the new students! I've been helping out around the Dalkeith house to prepare for next semester. I rather enjoy the work because it gives me something to do. I do things like putting together the fire roster, making door decs, making the calendar, etc. It's nice.

 

(: 

 

Anyways, I'll update soon!

Cheers, 

viva

 
 
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: Hardest of Hearts - Florence + the Machine
 
 
 
Viva
02 December 2010 @ 08:25 am

So.... Barcelona.

I'm sitting in an airport in Barcelona right now waiting to get to Dublin so I can hopefully get back to Edinburgh. I was supposed to go back to Edinburgh on Sunday but our flight was canceled because of a ton of snow there! Luckily my friend Josh and I made really good friends with the people at the hostel because they gave us two nights for 10.40E a night, super cheap! 

Anyways, I arrived in Barcelona on Wednesday night-- we flew in from Edinburgh and staggered off to our hostel (exhausted). We were late and when we arrived, we realized we (meaning I, really) had booked our hostel for December instead of November. Well, the receptionist-- a Brazilian named Rafa, just kind of laughed at my mistake and replied (in all honesty): "Well-- let's go to the kitchen, have a mojito, and work this problem out later." 

So, we went to the kitchen and had a Mojito. He ended up finding us a nice available room for four people without much trouble and it ended up being cheaper than it would have been in December, hah, so, that was really good. We hung around the hostel that night, since it was already late, and made friends with some of the receptionists-- particularly a Mexican named Louis, a Brazilian named Kayo, and Rafa. They were great fun-- very laid back. Rafa was very green peace and had actually built a green hut on the rooftop of the hostel and lived there- he had plants growing on the roof and was all in to yoga, drugs, sex, and world peace in a nighttime telly sort of way. He was a hilarious guy and would always "go up to the terrace" which was code for going to smoke some weed. That aside, the hostel was wonderful-- clean, laid back, a lot of fun, and full of mojitos.

We explored the city quite a lot and went to some of the famous landmarks like Sagrada Familia, the Mediterranean port, Tibidado (a mountain), Las Ramblas, Picasso Museum, Magic Fountains, and much more. We were supposed to leave Sunday, like I said, but because we didn't, we got to go out last night for a huge Madrid V. Barcelona football game about a mile away from the hostel! The receptionist Louis took a small group of us out and we partied and enjoyed the game. Barcelona ended up winning by 5-0! It was really a lot of fun.

Although all this was fun, I still ended up dropping my camera of the top of this huge church and watched it drop about fifty feet and shattered on to the ground below. Luckily it didn't hit anyone, sadly it broke for sure, luckily all my pictures are safe! Woo!

So, anyways, we finally got in to Dublin airport where we had to wait for a plane to Edinburgh. Lots of the other flights were starting to get canceled, but we managed to get on our flight about an hour and forty minutes late. We arrived in Edinburgh quite late and the buses were running slowly due to all of the snowfall that was happening. Nevertheless, we made it home at about midnight and received a warm welcome from our friends back at the house. It was quite nice.

In other news: all of this semester's students will be leaving next week! It's very sad to think about the fact that all of the friends and memories I've made will be leaving around the 10th. I, too, will be leaving, but for different reasons. If all is well and the snow decreases, I'll be taking a night bus to London on the 10th, flying out of Heathrow to Paris, where I'll be spending about a week. From Paris, I'll fly to Dubrovnik, Croatia for just under two weeks to hang out and be groovy. I'm doing some day trips to places like Zagreb, Herzegovina-Bosnia, etc. Considering it's about freezing here, I'm very, very excited for the 60 degreeish weather there. I've only seen snow for about two days and I'm already tired of it!

Last note: I finished Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) with just over 102,000 words, which is double the usual goal (50,000 words).

 

Anyways, to see pictures from Barcelona: 

http://omgitsviva.myphotoalbum.com/

 

Cheers,

Viva

 
 
Current Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: Jenny Don't Be Hasty - Paolo Nutini
 
 
 
Viva
16 November 2010 @ 08:50 am
It's getting cold and very, very dark. Not just a little bit darker, but a lot darker. It's dark from 4:30PM until 8:00AM now, which makes it very difficult to both get up in the morning and go to bed before 8:00 at night because it gets dark so early your body becomes convinced that it MUST be time for bed at 5:30 at night. This has been one of my biggest problems with Scottish weather. On top of that, it is rarely sunny all day long due to hail/overcast/rain, making sunshine a really limited commodity.

That said, we've had unspeakably nice weather these past few days. It hasn't been too cold, warm enough to go out in a heavy sweatshirt or fall jacket. We haven't gotten any snow (unlike some of Wisconsin?), just morning frost. The lack of snow does not seem to deter the Christmas festivities, however. The other day, in Edinburgh, the coca-cola truck was parked in one of the large plazas, glowing with lights, and hosting Christmas caroling. The giant Ferris Wheel has already been constructed right next to Scot Monument. Lights have been strung about the city and displays have been put up in shop windows. Clearly, Edinburgh is ready for Christmas.

The Christmas festival doesn't start until November 25th-ish, but this is what is should look like:



That will be really exciting! 

Too bad for most of December I'll be traveling. Starting December 10th (the last day of this semester when all of my friends will be going home! D= ), I'll be spending a week in Paris. After that week, I'll be flying to a city called Dubrovnik, a city called the "Pearl of the Adriatic" and is in Southern Croatia. My hostel is right off the beach of the Adriatic Sea, where I'll be spending just under two weeks before flying back to Edinburgh the day before Christmas. Christmas will, then, be spent by myself. I'll probably end up going in to Edinburgh and hanging out around the city, getting some yummy Christmas foods, and looking around the festival! 

Over the Thanksgiving Weekend, a friend, Josh, and I will be flying in to Barcelona for some time in Spain. I'm very excited to actually be able to practice my Spanish in a Spanish speaking country! I think it will be a lot of fun! 

 

<3 Viva

PS: I just signed up for my classes for next semester and I'll be taking a dissertation (the Scottish equivalent of and independent study crossed with an honors project) with a British Professor. The Professor, Dr. Gerry Mooney, is a senior lecturer in the Open University. So-- that should be a lot of fun! 

PSS: I'll update pictures post-Barcelona.

 
 
Current Location: Dalkeith
Current Mood: busybusy
Current Music: Electric Feel - MGMT
 
 
 
Viva
06 November 2010 @ 11:44 am
I haven't posted in a while, not because I've been lazy (although, really, that's probably part of it).

That said, I haven't posted in a while because my mum had been visiting. And on top of that NaNoWriMo started November 1st! For those of you who don't know what NaNoWriMo is, it stands for "National Novel Writing Month." People from all around the world get together and write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November (30 days). I have done it, and won, the last two years and am hoping to continue my winning streak for this year. So far, I have written exactly 36,580 words in only six days, so, I'm about 3/4 of the way done. My goal is to go beyond the required 50,000 words and write about 100,000 words. In Edinburgh, we have a NaNoWriMo writing group called "Nanobeans." We all get together with our laptops in different cafes around Edinburgh and write together! It is a neat opportunity for me to meet people around my age with a similar interest.

Also, yesterday was Guy Fawkes! Guy Fawkes was a Catholic radical with a small group of conspirators, in 1605, attempted to blow up the House of Lords in London, assassinate King James I of England and VI of Scotland. The plot failed when the gunpowder stored in the lower chambers was discovered. The men involved with the plot, called the Gunpowder Plot, were killed. There is a lot more to the story and I suggest for anyone to research it, since it is quite interesting. Today, the celebrations are much more festive with bonfires, fireworks, and a considerable amount of drinking. A couple of friends and I climbed up on to Colton Hill to watch the fireworks. Unfortunately for us, it was raining and was fairly cold, so, we got a nice shower.

Aside from that, not much has been happening. I'm leaving for a four-day Barcelona trip in about two weeks and I've also planned my December backpacking trip. Due to a change in plans, I'll be staying in Paris for about a week, followed by about a week and a half in a city called Dubrovnik. It's located in the far Southern tip of Croatia and is called the "pearl of the Adriatic" due to its location on the Adriatic Sea. Because my hostel is right on the beach, I'll be able to take part in beach horseback riding, both day and night boat tours, cliff diving, and much more! Unfortunately, I won't be able to see as many cities as I had originally planned, but I will get to spend a lot of time in two cities and really be able to see all they have to offer. (: 

 

Cheers, 

Viva

 

 
 
Current Location: Dalkeith House
Current Mood: anxiousanxious
Current Music: A Window Opens - First Aid Kit
 
 
 
Viva
16 October 2010 @ 06:35 pm

I haven't updated because there hasn't been much to update. I've been having a heavy class load with midterms next week (already!), so, I haven't gotten much out of the house time. I've been spending time at my Nanowrimo meetings, as Nano starts November 1st. I'm very excited for that! Other than that, life has been fairly uneventful.

Today, I went to my first Rugby match. I had no idea what was going on but it was certainly very eventful and lively, as well as greatly violent. In most sports I know, tackling happens around the waist/leg area. In Rugby, all body is fair game. People were being tugged by their shoulders, arms, legs, ear, anything. That was kind of cool to see as Rugby is fairly popular in Scotland (but much less so than Soccer).

That said my last day of classes is Wednsday and than I'm free for ten days! My mother is coming up to visit during that time, as she'll be here from the 21st-26th, so, I'm going to be spending a lot of time showing her around Glasgow/Edinburgh/Dalkeith. Since I'm of legal drinking age here, I'll be able to take her out to some whisky distilleries and bars. (Woohoo!) Unfortunately, I have to get through midterms next week. Meh. I don't think any of them will be particularly difficult, but taking exams takes a lot out of me. 

Anyways, still no new pictures (way to go for me), but I'll definitely be posting some new ones from my mum visiting.

 

Cheers, 

Viva

 
 
Current Location: The Library
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Current Music: Set Me On Fire - Pendulum
 
 
 
Viva
06 October 2010 @ 03:09 pm

You know, the public buses are always an adventure. There are two different buses for every number, one going one direction and one going the other direction. So, when trying to find the right bus, you have to make sure you have the right number of the bus you need to get on but you also have to make sure your bus is going the right direction. Then, if you're on the right side of the street (which, mind you, is the opposite side of the street than I grew up used to), and have the right bus number, you have to make sure that certain bus, going that certain direction, stops at that certain bus stop. Even if a bus goes down a street that you're standing on, that doesn't meet it will stop at any given bus stop on aforementioned street. The best part is when you get to the right street, the right side of the street, knowing the right bus number, and the right bus stop-- it's inevitable that you missed the last bus by five seconds and you now need to wait a half an hour for the next one. It's taken me nearly a month but I think I finally figured out the buses. No more getting lost and stranded in an unfamiliar part of town for me! No sir! 

Naw, the buses aren't quite that complicated or bad, but I'm just starting to feel really comfortable with getting on, getting off, and changing buses comfortably without having that nagging "I hope I'm getting on the right bus..." feeling in the back of my mind. My mind does give a good nag.

I haven't been updating my blog as much as I have recently for several (good) reasons: 

1. My host family has taken me out around town.

2. The weather has been warm, sunny, and beautiful. When you get warm, sunny, and beautiful weather here, you soak it in and savor it.

3. Midterms are already coming up in two weeks! Ahh! 

4. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts in November and I've joined the Edinburgh "NaNo" group. 

 

1. My host family has taken me out around town-- This past weekend was devoted entirely to my lovely host family. My host mother and her mother-in-law took my host sister and I to Glasgow on Saturday. We grabbed a train and took the hour train ride to Glasgow. Glasgow is a fairly large city and is known for its cheap shopping. There, we did tons of shopping! I ended up buying some winter stockings and hair dye. My mother than took us out for lunch at an Italian Restaurant that was delicious, but a little strict. The food was delicious but the waiters were very cold and serious (My host mom made jokes about them being the Russian Mafia). A funny story from the restaurant is my host mom asked for a glass of water. She waited, waited, waited, no water. She asked another busboy for a glass of water. Waited, waited, waited, no water. She asked a third waiter for a glass of water. She waited and finally all three of the waiters/busboys brought her a glass of water AND our waiter brought the table a large jug of water, so, we, between the four of us, had about seventeen glasses of water. Then, Sunday, my host family picked my sister and I up at 9:30AM and took us to our first cooked breakfast in a long time! I had tea, and eggs, and toast, and sausage, and bacon and it was delllllicious! Next, they packed us up and took us to Butterfly world and finally to Deep Sea World (I'll post pictures soon). We then went to their home where Virginia, my host mum, baked a beautiful tea of brownies, hot tea, and sour-cream enchilladas. Yum, yum! I'm spending more time with them this weekend but I'm going to be doing the cooking for tea! I'm considering making Brigadero (Brazilian finger dessert), banana bread, or pancakes.

2. The weather has been lovely! I've been doing a lot of running, walking, and ambling outside enjoying what I know will be the last bit of nice weather. It's getting darker earlier, staying darker later, and the leaves are turning an orangey red, which is gorgeous.

3. Midterms are already coming up in two weeks, it's panic time! Because we only have class four days and lots of breaks/extended weekends, our classes are incredibly condensed, so, we have midterms in two weeks and after that, we will be having a ten day vacation/break. My mum is coming to visit from Oct. 21-26 during the break! So, I'll be taking her all around Dalkeith, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.

4. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a worldwide "group" that dedicates themselves to writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (or the month of November). This is my third time doing NaNo and everytime I've done NaNo it's been in a different country:  USA, Brazil, and now Scotland, how cool is that? (: So, Edinburgh has a get-together for all the NaNo writers and I've decided to join. We meet twice a week-- Thursday at The Spoon Bistro and Sundays at the Starbucks. I'm going to hopefully meet some locals around my age whom have similar interests as I do. I'm going to my first meeting tomorrow, which will be awesome! I know, I know, it's not November yet, but we're all getting together to meet eachother and plan what we'll be writing in November. If anyone is interested in NaNoWriMo you can check out the website at: 

http://www.nanowrimo.org/

My account is 'Omgitsviva,' so, if you need anything like help, suggestions, or whatever, feel free to contact me. I really suggest this for anyone with any writing level, age, occupation. It really gets the creative gears cranking and even if you're not a professional writer (I'm certainly not!) it's a lot of fun to interact with all the people from all over the world all joining in one huge event together.

Anyways, that's been my past ten days.

Cheers,

Viva

 
 
Current Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Bad Education - Tilly and the Wall
 
 
 
Viva
28 September 2010 @ 05:07 pm

So, Sunday, the group arrived back from the Scottish Highlands after a weekend trip. The Highlands of Scotland are a mountainous region in the far North of the country and are home to many mountains, Caledonian forests, and a rich history of war. We stayed in two different hostels. Our first hostel, the day we arrived, was situated at the foot of Ben Nevis, the largest mountain in the UK at 4,409 ft. Although we didn't get much time to explore and climb it, I got up at five the next morning (Saturday) to go hiking down some of the isolated roadways that were surrounded by agricultural lands and forests. Many of the signs are still in Gaelic and English, catering to the language that was prominently spoken there until the last couple of years when English surpassed Gaelic in number of total speakers. Most of the Highlands is very desolate and has a low population density except for small towns catering to hikers, backpackers, and tourists every couple miles. Over the couple of days we were there, we stuck together, for the most part, in a large group because you had to take a bus to get to different points of interest. So, it was a lot of: get on the bus, go to a place and hang out there and explore for an hour, get back on bus, go to the next place, which wasn't bad, since we got to see way more than we would have had the staff let us loose like they had in London. Regardless, some of the most memorable things we saw (not in any particular order):

1. Glenfinnan Viaduct: A large, very beautiful mountain crossing bridge used for old steam engine trains that still chug through the country side every time and again. What made this viaduct famous is that is was filmed in Harry Potter as the "Hogwart's Express" train and track. So, pretty cool.

2. Inverness: The capital of the Highlands and probably the largest city in the Highlands. Its a port city, primarily, and hosts all sorts of culture and life. This is where a couple of friends and I went horseback riding up in the mountains one afternoon. Most of my friends that I rode with never had ridden a horse in an English saddle before, so, it was a lot of fun. I rode a little, fat flea-bitten gray Highland mare named Maggie who had the funniest little swinging gait.

3. Battlefield of Culloden: Definitely one of my favorite places to visit, which is odd because I've never really been much of a history person. Anyways, it was really the final battle between the Government Army (the army of the King that was ruling at the time - William Augustus) and the Jacobite Rising (Charles Edward Stuart). Stuart's Army was made of mostly Highlanders, rugged, tough, back-land men who were hungry, cold, stuck in rain, and had marched eight miles in an attempt to find Augustus' Army. The Government Army had been resting, were in shelter, and well fed as Augustus had given his troops extra food and drink to celebrate his birthday. Anyways, the following day, April 16th 1747, the two armies met. Augustus' well trained, experience, and well-kept soldiers defeated the Jacobites. The Jacobites suffered around 2,000 casualities to the Government Army's 50. Miraculous place to visit, very emotional as all of their graves are still on the battlefield.

4. Glen Coe - A neat little city where the "Glencoe Massacre" took place during the Jacobite Revolution. The massacre started on February (some day I don't remember) 1692, as thirty-eight Clan MacDonald members were killed by their guests. The MacDonalds had not given their allegiance to the newest monarchs and were thus killed. Many more died after their houses had been burned. Cool place to see, I didn't get to do much exploring, but I did take a very quick peak around the Massacre of Glencoe Museum, wish I would have had more time. Note: My mother also lives in Glencoe, Illinois, which was kind of neat.

5. Urquhart Castle/Loch Ness - Most know the story of the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie. We did get to go to Loch Ness and some of the bravest members of our group decided to take a quick dip in 40 degree weather. Needless to say, I did no such thing.

6. Doune Castle - What appears to just be another castle is actually the castle where parts of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed. It was certainly a delight to explore and make Holy Grail jokes throughout.

7. Fort George - A very impressive, strategic fort built for sea warfare. It was one of the most expensive forts built of its time and has its own port to the ocean. It is built into the ground and flat to have it so it is harder a target for cannons from the sea. We didn't get much time to explore it, but it is now used as a military training ground and is a tourist location.

We went to many different locations and it was all very, very pretty. Here are pictures, if you're interested: 

http://omgitsviva.myphotoalbum.com/

<3 Viva

Money Spent: 11.15 pounds (No worries! Roll over from yesterday!)

Things Bought: Bread, fruits, jam, laundry detergent, juice, instant soup

 
 
Current Location: Dalkeith Palace
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: Dragula - Rob Zombie
 
 
 
Viva
23 September 2010 @ 09:34 am

SO, it's been a fun week. (Sarcasm). No, it hasn't been bad, I suppose, but we arrived home from London Monday evening I've been feeling ill since then. I've been having a severe case of: "I-think-my-face-just-had-a-screwdriver-driven-through-it." Good news! I'm feeling a wee bit better this morning, no fever anymore and I'm now capable of breathing through my nose again, although I still feel a little bit congested. Oh well, the next couple of days in wind, rain, cold, and altitudes shall surely help! 

No, really, we're leaving for the Scotland Highlands today at three o'clock to see Loch Ness, climb Ben Nevis (highest point in Scotland), and explore the rugged, hardy mountain regions of Northern Scotland. From what I've researched, the Highlands are exceptionally beautiful with Lochs, Mountains, and ancient Caledonian Forests. We'll be staying until Sunday and staying in three different hostels, meaning lots and lots of travel crammed into three days. Nevertheless, I'm very excited to see all the beautiful geology (and here I always complained about my geology class last semester, but now I'm so glad I took it because I actually know a lot about the geology of this region now! woohoo!), as many of the rocks that we will see in the Highlands are some of the oldest in the world that formed over billions of years. So, okay geology-- you win.

Anyways, I don't have much else to write about right now except I won't be posting anything until I get back. Unlike when I was in London, I probably won't have any access to internet and I doubt I'll have phone service (Everybody, panic!). That being said, I'll post more ramblings and pictures when I return.

OOOH, OOOH! I found this hilarious shirt that I would have bought had it not been 30 pounds. You kow those ipod shirts of the shilouette of a person dancing on a colored background with the white ipod/headphone set? WELL. I found a shirt that had a shilouette of a Scottish man in a kilt with his bagpipe, etc., and he had the little white ipod/headphones and it said: "AYEPOD." 

Hardy har har har. Scottish humor. In fact, here it is (Bonus treat!): 

AYEPOD

 

PS: Thank you to everyone who has emailed me/friended me on facebook/called me. (: It really means a lot! 

I like knowing that my former professors, friends, and family are actually reading this. Wowskie! 

 
 
Current Location: Highlands
Current Music: Rock Steady - Aretha Franklin
 
 
 
Viva
21 September 2010 @ 09:34 am

Note: If you don't really want to read through my rambling about the wonders of London (And I don't blame you), you can get straight to pictures at the bottom of this post. Woohoo! Pictures!

So, I just returned from London and I had the hardest time coming back not because I don't love Edinburgh and Dalkeith, because I do, but because I loved London just so much more. It was everything and more that I could have ever dreamed of.

The group of students that went to London took a nine hour bus ride over night from Edinburgh to London-- it was very long and very uncomfortable, but we arrived early Friday morning. We checked in to our hostel called "The Generator" -- which isn't like your typical hotel. First off, all the showers are communal, which isn't bad because I was always an early riser, so, no one else was taking a shower at six in the morning, and we also were four persons per room. The rooms were about the size of broom closets so with two bunk beds taking up the majority of the room and our luggage taking up the rest, you sort of hand to mince, leap, jump, crawl, wiggle, and shuffle to get around the room. But it served its purpose and no one spent much time in the room anyways, so, it wasn't a big deal. The rest of the hostel was absolutely amazing. It had neon lights, a bar, a lounge, a cafe, everything. The walls were all painted in neon colors like blue and green with fierce red walls. The most astonishing part was the blending of so many cultures. We had a Brazilian Samba party one night at the downstairs bars and I went down there to check it out and whatever and I met some people with one who spoke French, one who spoke Portuguese, and one who spoke Spanish. I was translating between the Portuguese and the Spanish speaker, the Spanish speaker was translating for the Portuguese speaker and myself for the French speaker and the French speaker just kept smiling and nodding enthusiastically-- it was quite amusing and very, very hard on the language storage department of my brain.

Anyways, yes, Friday... so, Patty and Amanda (our supervisors/advisers/adoptive mothers/bosses/head masters/presidents/Goddesses) gave us our Oyster Card, which is kind of like a bus pass but for the "Tube." The Tube, which is the nickname for the London Underground Subway System is the most fantastic, beautiful, wonderful, glorious part about London because it enables a student to travel from one side of London to the other in under ten minutes (remember, London is about four times the size of Chicago! (or so I was told)). The Tube, however, is not as easy to learn as one might think. First of all, you have to make sure you're on the right line-- if you're not, you have to turn around and "go upstream" against a wave of people who are not at all amused that you're going against traffic. Then, once you arrive at the right line, you have to make sure you're on the right platform. You may have to go south, or north, or west, or south-- so, instead of fighting traffic, you stand in the middle of it staring stupidly at the display boards trying to figure out which platform you need to get to as people are forced to then walk around you. Either way, once I mastered the Tube, it ended up being the greatest thing ever.

So, later Friday night, some of us ended up going to the musical Wicked, which was really good. I had never seen it before (please, no shoes thrown at me this time). Saturday was definitely my favorite day in London because I separated away from my group and did a lot of exploring on my own, which is definitely the best way to do it. I took the seven o'clock tube to London Bridge, walked across the London Bridge and all the way to the Tower Bridge, had some English Breakfast tea as I strolled across the Tower Bridge, almost getting hit by a taxi that jumped the curb in the process, continued my walk back around to the Globe Theater, which was Shakespeare's theater. It wasn't the original since the original, well, burned down, but it was still neat. I didn't get to go inside because it was about fourteen pounds to get in, which is a little outside my budget, so, I continued on to the Millennium Bridge (which was featured in a Harry Potter movie!) and skipped across that to the Tate Modern, where I spent several hours admiring art. Getting hungry, I had a sushi lunch at an authentic Japanese restaurant in God Knows Where (I was impossibly lost, the nice thing about being lost in London is every couple miles or so is an underground entrance, so, I could just hop on the Tube anytime and find my way back). Full and happy, with a new cup of tea (I think that was about my fourth cup of tea that day), I went wandering and found this sort of"passageway" that lead into what I believed to be an old station for the Tube or perhaps a train station or something. The passageway spilled out into this huge stone corridor that was the "Borough Market." In the market was everything you could imagine-- you could buy fish straight off the ice, ostrich eggs, buffalo meet, tea, trinkets. You could get your fortune read, you could get a spell cast on someone-- it was very mystical and very, very, very crowded. Anyways, I ended up buying some teas of various flavors and continued on (I ended up getting disgusted by one guy's stand who had dead pigeons hanging by fishing hooks off his tent's canopy). Deciding it was about time to go somewhere that was a bit more normal I took the tube to Regent's Park and walked through Regent's Park into the upper crust part of London. This is also where I found Baker's Street, the home of Sherlock Holmes.

The upper crust part of London was gorgeous with massive mansions with BMW's, Porsche's, and nice cars strewn about. I saw an Aston Martin just parked out on the side of the street like, you know, whatever. i continued walking towards the zoo and I saw some guy getting out of a bright red Ferrari. I was like: 

"Hey! That's one sweet car you have there." 

and he was like "Hey! Want to come sit in it?" 

So, he started the engine and let me sit in the driver's seat with the heads-up display and the gauges and everything. It was so awesome. (: He was really nice. His name was Nate and we talked for a bit, he said he was twenty-five and lived right next to the zoo. I told him a little about where I was from and why I was here, then I continued on my way. It was getting late and I was getting tired so I headed back to the hostel, found some dinner, and went to bed.

Sunday, our last full day in London, Shane, a friend from the Dalkeith UW, and I hung out. We went to Piccadilly Circus, which is like London's version of Time's Square. Nearby, we strolled through China Town and bought some oriental candies, sweets, and other goodies. We also had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, where the waiter didn't speak much English, but we had fun anyways. The food their was absolutely amaaaazing. Just mind blowingly good. Anywho, we ate lunch, wandered around a bit more, and then went over to Hyde Park and strolled around yonder for a wee bit. Deciding we could use some alcohol and history, we took the tube over to London's Hard Rock Cafe which is the original Hard Rock. It also has "The Vault" which is Hard Rock's largest and most valuable collection of musical memorabilia with guitars from Gene Simmons, jackets from John Lennon, and sunglasses from Kurt Cobain. We got to tour the vault (I even saw Jim Morrison's jacket!!) and then headed over to the bar where I had a coffee with Bailey's Irish Cream. We also saw a Bugatti Veyron just hanging out, parked, infront of the Hard Rock. For those of you who aren't into cars, the Veyron is the fastest production car in the world with top speeds spitting out at 267 mph. The minimal cost in 1.7 million dollars, but can reach well over 2 million for super sport, customization, etc. It was cool getting to see that car in person.

Anyways, after Hard Rock, we took the tube over to the infamous London Eye, where we got to take a huge tour. The London Eye is a very slow moving "Ferris wheel" with large containers you get to stand in as it swings around slowly. One full rotation took us close to forty minutes. It was neat to see London at around 7:00 dusk from a bird's eye view. After that, Cat, Christi, and I walked around the city-- seeing Big Ben and the Abbey glowing, stopped for dinner at a small snack shop (Mmm, tea and Bueno chocolate for dinner!).

Yesterday, Monday, was our last day in London. We had the morning to do whatever we liked, so, I went to the local mall to look around. We had to be at the train station by 1:00 pm, so, I didn't have enough time to really take the tube anywhere to see things, but the mall was good. I bought some really warm socks and leggings (which is just the fashion rage over here). I also purchased some loose leaf tea to bring home with me. It was sad to pack up on to the train and leave because I fell so, so in love with London (that and I have classes today...) but the group is leaving for our next trip on Thursday right after classes, so, to the Highlands I go! 

Sites/Things visited: Millennium Bridge, Borough Market, Picadilly Circus, Platform 9 3/4, Tower Bridge, Bridge of London, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace (gorgeous inside!), The Royal Gardens, The Mounties, Changing of the guards, Wicked, The London Eye, Big Ben, China Town, Double Decker Buses, Telephone Booths, Covent Garden, House of Parliament, Sherlock Holmes Pub, St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Tate Modern, and so, so, so much more.
 

<3 Viva

PS: Because I've recieved some emails from people who aren't my friend on facebook but still want pictures (You're all so demanding! [I'm kidding, love me!]), I finally got off my bum and put together an online image album here: 

http://omgitsviva.myphotoalbum.com/

(For those of you who skipped all the London rambling (note that I'm judging you for that) click the link above for pictures! Woohoo pictures!)

Woohoo! 
 
 
Current Location: London
Current Music: Washed Away - Joe Purdy