Thursday, December 30, 2010

J'adore Paris

Today was my favorite day in Paris so far. We woke up rather early and went to the same bakery for breakfast. This morning the three of us got Pain au Chocolat. Matt and I then walked around trying to find Maddie who went to top up her phone. After some confusion and finally finding each other, we made our way to Notre Dame! We had a beautiful walk from our apartment and down the Seine.

When we got to Notre Dame there was a very, very long line. We decided that we are going to try to go inside another day, but we still walked around outside and took pictures. We also stayed to listen to the bells ring, which was a very cool experience. 
We ate lunch at a little cafe near Notre Dame. I had a sandwich which was basically toast with ham and cheese melted on top. We didn't have any problems with muggers today, but I was charged 5 euros for my cup of diet coke. That was a surprise, but now I have learned just to order water whenever I go inside a restaurant here. 

After looking around in some shops and buying something for my mom and dad, we decided to go and do some shopping in some stores we've been walking past throughout our trip here. Most of the stores here are way too expensive--but it was fun trying on clothes and looking at jewelry and purses. After standing in a line with Maddie for what seemed like half an hour, Matt told us he was feeling sick, so we walked back to our apartment as quickly as we could. He decided to stay behind while Maddie and I did some more shopping. After we were done shopping we went to Starbucks and I tried a drink I had not tried before! It was a tea frappucino, which according to the menu was 'an iced drink and hit flavors raspberry, cassis, white grape and cassis.' 
We sat in Starbucks for awhile and talked while Maddie drew. 
After awhile we decided to go exploring some some streets we had not yet traveled down. We found a lot more clothing stores, but we also came across a photography gallery! There were pictures of city landscapes, people, the ocean, and others. After some more exploring we decided to walk back to the apartment to see how Matt was doing. We ended up buying him a baguette and then leaving him for the evening. Maddie and I had a wonderful night! We began with crepes at the restaurant right next to our apartment. I had a sugar crepe, which I had at Disney World this time last year.....I think I liked the one from Disney better, but I'm not complaining! We then planned on going to the ferris wheel and just walk around. To get to the ferris wheel we had to walk through the Louvre which was absolutely beautiful. It may have been one of the most beautiful things I have seen since I have moved to this side of the world. My camera doesn't like taking pictures when it's dark outside, so I couldn't fully capture the beauty. But here's a snapshot:
As we began to walk towards the pyramids we heard some beautiful music coming from the archway. There was a man playing a cello...and he was very good. He was also in a spot which created the perfect photo opportunity.
By this point I had fallen in love with Paris...and I realized why Paris is known as the city of lights. We took some more pictures, went inside of the big pyramid and then moved on towards the ferris wheel.
We didn't have to wait in any sort of line once we arrived, which was a surprise to both Maddie and myself. Sadly, there was too much fog so the Eiffel Tower wasn't visible tonight. I'm hoping we will be able to see it for New Years tomorrow or over the next couple days we are here. But we saw the Arc De Triomph clearly, which was breathtaking. When we were done on the ferris wheel we watched a dance group from Texas who were perfoming next to the wheel, and then we began our walk back to our flat. 
We stopped in a couple shops and we went to McDonalds after we promised each other we wouldn't go to it at all while we were in Paris (we spent too much time hanging out in McDonalds in Edinburgh). But Maddie and I were both hungry and it sounded really great at that moment. We made it back to our apartment, told Matt all about our adventures and have now been uploading pictures, skyping and watching the Van Gogh Doctor Who episodes...since we may be going to Musee D'Orsay tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Do you KNOW what the Louvre IS?"

Today was our first full day in Paris, and it was full of food, adventure and fun.
We slept in until ten so Maddie could try and fight off her jet lag, but once we were all awake we got ready and walked down our street deciding what we wanted for brunch. We ended up doing some grocery shopping and then we got baguettes and pain au chocolat from a patisserie. Once we had finished eating our delicious pastries, we spent the day walking around sightseeing. We decided to walk to the Eiffel Tower and see what we would run into on the way. Because I didn't pay a lot of attention in French class, I didn't know a lot about the buildings and statues we saw. If a building or statue looked pretty or important, I took a picture..
There are carousels scattered throughout Paris, but the first one we saw was here by the ice rink.

While we were walking we walked into some interesting little shops, and even found Harry Potter in french (surprise..)
After exploring for awhile we ended up at the Louvre. I had a rather embarrassing moment, not knowing what the Louvre looked like. oops.

As we kept walking, there was an incident in which two men kind of...I guess you could say 'legally mugged' us. As was taking the above picture, one of the guys went up to Matt and told him to hold some string for him. Matt said no, but the guy went up to him anyways and grabbed his wrist. He then proceeded to make a bracelet, tie it around his wrist and then told him to give him ten euros. Maddie and I walked over, and another guy did the same thing to us, except the entire time he was saying, "you are sexy. Do you have boyfriend?" and some other things he clearly memorized from a phrase book. Because "we were sexy" he only made us give him eight euro each. So that was a rather exciting experience.
We just kept walking after that, complaining--but the same thing happened later, and Maddie screamed no and we kept walking. We also had some gypsies ask us if we spoke english, but we said no...Maddie and I were rather excited when we found the fountain from The Devil Wears Prada (which we are watching right now).
Before we walked to the Eiffel Tower we decided to walk to the Arc de Triomphe. It was so much bigger than I expected it to be! We walked through the tunnel and went inside it to take some pictures and be tourists.

We then walked to the Eiffel Tower, which was inspiring and magnifique. Maddie and I bought some delicious crepes and ate them in front of the Eiffel Tower. They were pretty messy, but delicious! We both had banana and chocolate crepes, with a lot of whipped creme and was kind of messy to eat, but so worth it! We then took lots and lots of pictures of the Eiffel Tower. The line was very long today so we didn't go inside, but we will be going back in the next few days to go up it.

It started to get cold after walking for awhile, so we decided to walk down the river seine to get back to our flat. It was picturesque, and we saw all of the monuments we saw this morning, except it had gotten quite dark outside so everything was lit up and beautiful. For dinner we bought a fresh baguette and got some brie cheese, and I had some leftover pasta from dinner last night. So far one of my favorite things about Paris is the food. After dinner we walked around for awhile and went window shopping until everything began to close. Thankfully, things don't close here as early as Edinburgh. There is also so much more to do at night here. We are hopefully going to be taking a night cruise while we are here...and of course New Years Eve!!
Tomorrow the plan is to go to Notre Dame and maybe take a bus tour...and shopping =]

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day one

I am currently sitting in our very small, one room flat in Paris.
Today has been such an adventure! I woke up early this morning and went to the airport. This was my first time ever flying by myself, and I really liked it! I also had my first ever pat down at airport security today. That was fun. While waiting for my flight to board, I sat in Costa Coffee and wrote. The flight to Paris was uneventful, except for the power going out before we took off..woops. The flight was quite short, and I think I spent longer sitting in the airport figuring out how to get to my flat than I did on the plane.
I eventually figured out that I would need to take a bus from CDG airport to L'Opera de Paris. Once I was off that bus, I realized I was completely lost. I wandered around for over an hour trying to figure out a way to the flat, to no avail. I had fun looking at shops and people and buildings, but it started to rain and I had my luggage with me. I then took a taxi to the flat, and I'm glad I did. I was pretty far away from where I was supposed to be. But I saw some of the famous buildings and bridges while I was in the taxi. And thankfully, I made it safely to the flat. I will definitely be posting pictures sometime soon.

We are still waiting for Maddie to get here. Her flight got in awhile ago but we haven't been able to reach her..

Monday, December 27, 2010


is Paris.

I've had a great time at Stacey's house these past two weeks. Tonight I've been packing for PARIS TOMORROW. I have an early flight tomorrow, and I'm not yet sure what I'm doing when I get to Paris. I'm going with the same people I traveled around Edinburgh with, and we've never been good at planning. We are all arriving in the country at different times, and the keys for the apartment we're renting have to be picked up at a certain time, so basically we're all going to be separately bumming alone around Paris. I know. Really safe. I think I'm going to end up hanging around the airport for a few hours until I can meet one of my travel buddies.

Yesterday I completely forgot to blog. But I went to Stacey's church, and was sucked into leading worship. 

The man we're renting the apartment from hasn't given us any information about the place we're staying in...except for the fact it's on the fifth floor with no elevator, a big screen tv, and two balconies. So, tomorrow will be a big surprise! I'm really hoping there is wi-fi so I can blog, but I will hopefully be able to find a place with wi-fi if we don't have it in our apartment.

Pray for safe travels and a safe/fun time in Paris!
If I don't blog while I'm there, I'm traveling to London on the 3rd and will make sure I find internet.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas, Harry

This will be a Christmas I will always remember. I have never been away from home for Christmas, but I had such a great time today. This morning it was just me, Aryn and Stacey's family, minus one brother. We woke up rather early and opened up stockings and presents. Stacey's family bought Aryn and me stockings and a couple small gifts, which was so kind of them. I also had some presents from my family and from Stacey and Aryn. After we all had given and received our gifts, we enjoyed a breakfast of scones, bacon, juice and eggs (none for me..but everyone else enjoyed it!). This afternoon we watched Santa Clause and just enjoyed Christmas.
For Christmas dinner one other person joined us, and it was an excellent meal. There was turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots, bread, and pie. 
This evening we are going to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special. I'm excited for that.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas eve.

Today was an amazing day. Stacey, Aryn and I woke up early and walked over to a cafe called The Hungry Hobbit, where we ate elevenses. On the way to the cafe I had 'the road goes ever on and on' going through my head. In the cafe, there were pictures from Lord of the Rings on the walls and there was a Gollum statue wearing a santa outfit. It was very cute.

On the way to the Hungry Hobbit we stopped by Sarehole Mill, which used to be a childhood playground of the one and only J.R.R. Tolkien. The mill closed in November, so we won't able to go inside to the museum, but here's a picture!
Next to the mill, there is a little park called The Shire. After our morning adventures we spent some time in the park while we waited for Stacey's parents to pick us up.

Our next stop was Moseley Bog, which was stunningly beautiful. Stacey says it looks straight out of Lord of the Rings in the summer, but with the snow on the ground it was still quite beautiful. Here's just a few pictures. There is a little creek running through the bog with a boardwalk, and a lot of little paths and steps. There were some dogs running around through the trees, and we even helped find a lost dalmatian.

Lord of the Rings fan? (Ents rule)
A pretty impressive tree

After wandering through the bog and park, Stacey's parents picked us up and we went almost directly to a little town called Stratford-Upon-Avon. This is the town where Shakespeare was born and also where he is now buried.

This is the home he was born in. Around his home there are a bunch of little touristy shops. We only went into a little Christmas shop, and then we walked to the church where he is buried, and where we also attended a candlelight carol service.

The service we attended was wonderful. The choir sang two of my all time favorite choral pieces: Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre and O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen. Both of the pieces I knew from being in concert choir in high school, and they were two of my favorites to sing. This was my first time hearing O Magnum live by a choir that wasn't my own. I loved it, even though I wanted to sing along the entire time. We did sing some traditional Christmas carols, but it still took me by surprise when the carols I know from back home were different in this country.
After the service had ended we went to the back of the church to find Shakespeare's grave. There wasn't anything that said where he was buried, so we asked someone. They pointed us to a very worn down looking part of the floor. There used to be writing on the tomb, but so many people have touched it and put down flowers and other items the writing has worn off.

There it is! It was interesting to see it after hearing and reading all about Shakespeare in high school.
The rest of this evening we have been enjoying good food and Elf.
It has been a very good Christmas eve. I couldn't think of a better way to spend it here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve, Eve!

Today began to feel a lot more like Christmas as we have been watching a couple Christmas movies, and some more of Stacey's family came today. Stacey, Aryn and I were supposed to have our Tolkien day today, but we didn't get out of bed until noon (woops). So we have postponed our adventure for tomorrow, and I am pretty excited!
Nothing much happened today except for movie watching, skyping, cookie making and lots of food.
That's really it for today....but TOMORROW will be exciting. I can guarantee it. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Bow ties are cool"

Today we went to yet another mall, where I bought some socks and a hot water bottle. Livin' large.

Christmas is getting closer so Stacey, Aryn and I wrapped our Christmas presents for each other. The process of buying presents for each other was to basically take something off the shelf and give it to each other. We've been getting into the Christmas cheer listening to Christmas carols and we've watched The Holiday. 
We've had some more snow, so I'm starting to get nervous about traveling to Paris. I've been going onto the Eurostar website and they have been canceling some of the trains or they have been pretty delayed. I'm crossing my fingers!

Janelle is leaving for Germany tomorrow with two girls named Jenny and Britlynn, so they are spending the night here so they can catch their flight in the morning. They took the bus to Stacey's except they got off about three miles too early, so we drove out to find them. After a wonderful dinner of chili and crisps,  we are now watching Hot Fuzz and lounging around the house.
Tomorrow is the much anticipated Lord of the Rings day. So, expect a very nerdfighter post tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear

Today was another day of shopping, eating and cooking!!
I think shopping was such a great experience because I didn't buy anything for myself. Spending money has always been a problem of mine, but I've been working on it while I have been living abroad. But I bought Christmas presents for the girls I'll be staying with, and I also bought a present for my dad (which I am rather jealous of).

The highlight of today was the gingerbread house we made! We made a lot of the candy that came with it.
Today is a rather uneventful blog but Stacey, Aryn and I are getting ready to watch Doctor Who, and we are waking up early tomorrow to do some more shopping!

This blog is also quite short because I spent much of this evening skyping with my travel buddies, Matt and Maddie, trying to figure out how to get from Paris to London. Thankfully we figured it out!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.

Today was a sleep-in day. I slept in until 9, which is pretty late for me. I was the only one up for awhile, so I read through 1 John and caught up on the latest season of the Office. We eventually all went downstairs for elevenses which consisted of pumpkin scones, pumpkin butter, fruit, and of course..tea. Janelle, Stacey, Aryn and I then walked to the grocery store nearby for some food. After an uneventful walk back we drove to Cadbury World, which was the original Cadbury factory. We were going to buy some gifts from the shop, but we quickly discovered they are closed on Mondays. We will hopefully be going on Wednesday. The rest of the afternoon we baked some marzipan and got ready to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
After an hour drive full of queues and snow, we made it to the movie theater. We were half an hour late to the showing we were supposed to go to, but the employees at the theater were very kind and upgraded us to the 3-D show which would be starting ten minutes after we arrived. I absolutely loved the movie. I read the books when I was younger, so I didn't remember much of the plot, but I think it was very well done. There were so many great quotes that sounded straight out of a lecture from school. 
And because I feel the need to add a picture:
Since I'm going to be here next week...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It feels a lot like Christmas!!

First of all, I forgot to mention a few days ago that Lucky Charms are a delicacy here. At Selfridges we found a box that was over 7 quid. Crazy.
Today I experienced two different churches. I attended Stacey's church this morning. She told me there are around 40 people in the congregation, but today only around ten showed up. I have never been to a church so small, and it was a really interesting experience. Obviously, everybody knows everyone, and it seems like a big family. It was a rather exciting drive this morning with all of the snow on the ground, and I got to see several spots which inspired Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels. I will be visiting these places later this week, so expect a very nerdy blog post later. 
I have officially become addicted to a good cuppa. Today I have probably had four I take another sip right now. I need to start being careful, or I am going to end up with some pretty stained teeth.
The darker drink in the picture above is a Norwegian Christmas drink. It is made warm, and you pour nuts and raisins into it before drinking. It tastes very good with Norwegian cheese and a cracker, which a girl from Norway gave to Stacey before we left school. 
This evening we attended a candlelight caroling service on a beautiful school campus. We sang some English carols, and some other traditional carols. Tonight was one of my first times experiencing culture shock when they started singing different versions of tunes I knew. I also experienced culture shock again when the pastor invited us to the building next door for mulled wine and mince pies. My stomach is still warm =]
Today we are filling our night with a movie and some more Doctor Who. Tomorrow we are finally going to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader and go shopping in the city centre and German market again!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sleep deprivation.

I went to bed at 6am this morning. We stayed up all night last night watching The Holiday and Doctor Who until Michelle had to be dropped off to catch her coach to London. I am happy to say I have become addicted to Doctor Who. None of us except for Janelle got any real sleep last night, so when I rolled out of bed after a nap Stacie, Aryn and I made cookies which consisted of oatmeal, chocolate chips, and orange peel. They are delicious!
We were planning on going to a Christmas market in Bath today, but we found out it was closed. So we were thinking about joining Stacey's family and a group of their friends in a nearby town, but none of us were very interested. But when we woke up we discovered we wouldn't be going anywhere. This winter the UK has gotten so.much.snow. I would say there are about six inches in Stacie's backyard right now, which is a lot for England. We spent a lot of the afternoon looking at cars attempting to drive through the snow.

This evening will be another night of Doctor Who and just hanging out around the house...eating food that isn't rice and potatoes. Tomorrow we are going to Stacey's church in the morning (depending on the weather), and then tomorrow night we are going to a caroling service! It is starting to feel (and look) a lot like Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

My first experience of Birmingham

Today was filled with shopping, food and laughter. After staying up until the wee hours of the morning, we had an early start and walked around the city of Birmingham, which is the second biggest city in the UK--according to what I have heard. We started by walking down Stratford Road which is a very asian area with outdoor fruit stands, scarves, asian sweets, and also Indian clothing.

We then took a bus to the city centre, where we shopped. I felt at home when we found a Starbucks and a Forever 21!
Since I have been at Capernwray I have gone to Starbucks probably around five times. It may seem a lot for some people, but that is hardly anything for me. So when I do find a Starbucks, I have to take a picture and at least smell the shop. I have an addiction to peppermint mochas, so I treated myself to one today. With the Starbucks we enjoyed some asian sweets Stacey bought on Stratford Road.

It was great being in the mall and seeing all of the overly expensive clothing and a box of lucky charms which cost 7 pounds and 49p! I realized how much I have missed civilization.
Here is the church outside of the mall...and the big silver building is Selfridges:

I was excited to walk inside H&M and realize how cheap the clothes are here! And of course we had to go to Primark where I bought a jacket and several tops. After we spent too much money at the shopping centres we walked to the German market which is full of food, handmade crafts and more!
It was great to experience the hustle and bustle of the market, and the lights and trees lit up the city!

We made it back to my roommate Stacey's house and enjoyed tea and have been relaxing around the house. One of the girls staying here needs to leave at 3:30 in the morning, so we are staying up with her watching movies and enjoying our last few hours together for the next few weeks until we go back to school.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

First day of break!

I am all settled in a lovely semi-detached home in Birmingham, England. It was a loong drive across England, but we made it through the 'treacherous centimeter of snow'. 
I stayed at Cape until a bit after noon waiting for my roommates dad to pick us I am staying here with some lovely girls =]

The home is so lovely and british...and the holiday decorations make it even better! I don't think I will ever get away from rice while I'm here, but we had an awesome home cooked meal consisting of tacos, rice, ice cream and a chocolate pastry. I know I will enjoy celebrating Christmas here.

Tonight we are just enjoying the super fast internet and relaxing, since tomorrow we are shopping and going to a German market.
I will make sure I update a lot while I am traveling.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I don't update enough.

It is officially Christmas break.
Today we didn't have any lectures, but we had to pack up and move out of our rooms. I was sitting in the windowsill of my room earlier and realized how empty and sad it is. There have been so many amazing times with my roommates in that room, and it will be weird to come back and move into a different room with different roommates.
We just said farewell to the two buses going to London, and it was surprisingly hard to say goodbye, even though we will all be together again in three weeks. The castle is pretty empty, and I will be leaving early tomorrow morning. It will be hard saying goodbye to my wonderful room and roommates and friends and everything about this school (except for maybe getting away from the food for a bit...even though it is good...potatoes, rice and curry have gotten prettttyyy old).
Anyways, tomorrow I am going to one of my roommates houses here in England, and I will be celebrating Christmas there. Then I'll be traveling from Birmingham to London and London to Paris by myself. I think this will be a huge growing experience traveling on my own. But thankfully once I get to Paris my friend Matt will be waiting for me in the station...and hopefully our entire group will successfully meet up.
It has been an amazing term. I am really excited for what the rest of winter school will bring. Once winter break ends I will be planning for spring break, which is already partially planned and is going to be AMAZING.

I will be blogging a lot more over break (hopefully) since I'll have unlimited internet access (finally).
And the internet rules are changing here at school so we will also have more time online...which means I will make time to blog!