Sunday, 23 November 2008

Chapter Sixteen

"je ne parle pas francais".... translation: I do not speak french.  

Basically the story of my life this past week.  We took a little trip to Paris and I basked in the classy Parisian streets and saw all that Paris has to offer (well maybe not... but pretty close).  I did so much that I can barely even remember it all, so I am going to give the highlights. 

Eiffel Tower: 
The first place we went in Paris. Oh and it is amazing. It is grand and tall and sparkles on the hour.  We went up to the top at night and the view was amazing.  It is tall, really tall, Dad you wouldn't have liked it. Day or night the Eiffel Tower is so pretty, its odd such an industrial looking tower could be so romantic... maybe everything in Paris is just romantic. 

The Language Barrier:
The language barrier is called a barrier for a very good reason. You can't communicate. At all. So that made for an interesting week.  "Parlez-vous anglais?" (do you speak english) is my new favorite phrase... and so is merci... which came in handy when I took off after my camera. I had left it on the public bus... so it was basically a goner. Rather than behaving normally and assuming that it was gone and sulking for a week then buying a new one I took off after the bus.  I left Hillary and Becky and booked it. For those of you who are unaware running is kind of out of character for me, but I forgot my normal character and ran like the wind. By the time I was winded I got on the first 69 bus I saw.  I attempted to communicate to the driver in english/french/sign language (heavy on the sign language) that my camera was on the bus that was ahead. He was able to decipher that he should call ahead.  Miraculously the camera was found and I rode triumphantly to retrieve it.  I found Becky and Hillary, who thought I was mad (as the British like to say).  I have never loved a french bus driver more in my life, or my camera.  Anyways my that is my heroic story for the week... although it doesn't fit into the language barrier topic. Whatever.  

Oh my oh my. Forget the city of love  Paris is the city of art. We spent a whole day in art museums: the Louvre, the Musee d' Orsay, and Musee de l' Orangerie. Oh it was glorious.  We started the day at the Louvre and were there right when it opened. We saw the Mona Lisa which wasn't as cool from five feet away and shrouded under plated glass, but its all good.  We cruised through Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, and all the highlights.  Which was still nothing. Apparently if you spend 30 seconds at every painting in the Louvre it would take you 3 months to finish it... not cool... if you only have a week. 

Next stop was the Musee d' Orsay.  It was so awesome and again filled with far too many priceless pieces of art.  Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Manet, Renoir. Love it. 

My very favorite was the Musee de l' Orangerie.  Basically it was designed just to house Monet's giant paintings, "The Water Lilies."  There were these blank white circular rooms with these beautiful paintings on the walls. Oh is was lovely. Like heaven on earth... heaven better have Monet's "Water Lilies."

Beautiful Cathedrals:
Chartres Cathedral was our first stop. We got there kind of lateish so we didn't get to see the full lighted Cathedral but what I did see was still amazing.  The stained glass windows were so beautiful and straight from Medieval times.  We had this awesome tour that deciphered the meanings of the windows.  This is probably one of my favorites.  The building is so tall and so impressive, and just beautiful.
Notre Dame... very pretty. After Chartres it wasn't as impressive but it was still beautiful. I loved the rose window, and that it was on a little island. We pretended to be the huntchback of Notre Dame and basked in the building's greatness. I love the outside of the cathedrals.  The flying buttresses and the architecture of the building are probably my favorite parts.  

Saint Chappelle. This is my favorite. By far. I love love loved it. I had no idea what to expect from this one and I walked in and was astounded. All the walls in the room are covered in stained glass.  It is so beautiful. The glass illustrates from the beginning of the world to the end of the world.  I can't even say how beautiful it was, and the photo below does not nearly do it justice. 

Public Restrooms:
Really, really sketchy. Automatic closing doors... and homeless men... and I really have to go pee. Need I say more?

Creepy, not quite as creepy as the public restrooms, but pretty creepy. We strolled through a whole mile of walls filled with piled up human bones.  Kind of gross, but really awesome. I mean where else can I go see thousands of bones on a Thursday afternoon?  Maybe go visit Chopin's grave in a crazy graveyard... which is what we did next. 

Rick Steves:
He is our hero... everything we did came from Becky's Rick Steves Guidebook. We went on the walks that he had in the book and it was awesome. We saw windy Parisian streets, awesome old bookstores, Picasso and Renior's hangouts, Jewish nieghborhoods, etc. None of which we would have seen without good ol' Rick. 

French Food:
Ooh la la. I love french food. Crepes, baguettes, pastries, gourmet ice cream... mmm... delicious. I ate far too much of it, and yet I was still always wanting more. I mean you can never have too many sugar crepes right?

Au revoir Paris! As much as I enjoyed being with you, it's nice to be home.

I love that London is home. 

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Chapter Fifteen

Just when you think that London couldn't get any better you turn the corner and a little piece of paradise appears.  Candy colored row houses, a pretty park with peacocks... I mean really? Is this real life? And I am fairly certain it is, but sometimes it really doesn't seem that way.  
green, pink, yellow, blue...

a piece of paradise. 

pretty as a peacock in a public park.

Chapter Fourteen

These past few weeks have got me thinking about how blessed I am, not only to be here, but for so many other things. The other day we went to the Imperial War Museum, and it has been Remembrance week, with Veteran's and Armistice Day. We went and visited Westminster Abbey and the Field of Remembrance. They had a memorial set up for all the soldiers who died in the great war. The museum had exhibits on World War I and World War II, and it just really showed me how lucky we are today.  The lives that those soldiers, and civilians lived were so difficult.  I start complaining when I get only 7 hours of sleep. So many of these people would work all day and then almost all night as well.  They had no beds, during the Blitz they went down into bunkers all night and tried to sleep through the air raids.  I can't even imagine.  After the World War exhibits I went to the Holocaust Memorial Exhibit.  I hadn't ever really been to a Holocaust musuem before and it was so upsetting.  I still cannot believe that people could be killed simply because of their beliefs, but I know that it happens and that it still happens.  It disgusted me how all the people were persecuted and tortured, and how many innocent people were killed.  It made me so grateful for the peace that we have in our nation and made me realize what a blessing that peace is.  I do not need to live in fear because of my religion and can enjoy my day to day life. It is such a blessing that I take for granted every day.  

I am so grateful for everyone who has fought and died for the cause of freedom, and for all of the blessings that I now enjoy because of their sacrifice.  

Chapter Thirteen

I love birthdays, but I really love London birthdays! 

I am now 19... there isn't much exciting about being 19, but if my birthday day was any indication of how the year will go I will have a lovely 19th year. We spent the day at Hampton Court Palace which is where King Henry the Eighth lived.  It was so pretty... I love palaces, especially on my birthday. I think everything is just better on  birthdays.   

We went through a hedge maze! I have never been in a maze before... so it was fun. This was us at the heart of the maze, hence the hearts. 

Pretty, pretty Hampton Gardens.

I love jumping pictures! 

We had lunch at the palace and frolicked about the gardens.  It was just such a good day.  After Hampton court we came back.  Unfortunately we had a bunch of work this weekend, like two papers and a test. So I didn't go crazy on my birthday night. We all went to this yogurt place called Snog. It was good. Then I came back and wrote a paper (happy birthday to me!) Then we watched Peter Pan!  It's the perfect birthday movie.  My favorite movie, plus it's set in London, and its about growing up. What more could you want right? 

It was a lovely lovely birthday. I love being 19. I have a feeling it's going to be a good year. 

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Chapter Twelve

A Lovely London Weekend in Pictures

Oh yes, that's Leo... good old Leonardo DiCaprio.  We went to Body of Lies premiere and basically stalked Leo and took a lot of pictures of the back of his head. Such a good time. It's weird... I really only know Leo from his old Titanic days, and even then I was in elementary school, but when you get in a group of screaming girls and Leonardo is right in front of you, you feel the urge to start screaming to.  So I did. And it was oh so fun. 

I love pick up pictures, especially awkward ones in the middle of Gelato Mio... and I basically am in love with Gelato Mio. Pear and strawberry-- to die for. 

I walked up to the National Gallery after a nice hunt in some old bookstores and this is what I found.   I love London sunsets and Trafalgar Square, especially together.  And then I went to the National Gallery and basked in the brilliance of beautiful works of art... typical Friday afternoon.
I love the Lord Mayor's Parade! And British flags and poppies! This week has been a week of festivities to remember all the people who fought and died for Britain. Everyone wears paper poppies that I love.  I have three.  The Lord Mayor's Parade was so exciting.  We waved our British flags proudly and were the lone cheerers on the street of quiet Brits.  Yay for London!

Ohh how I adore Big Ben... and London at night. We went to see the firework show the night of the Lord Mayor's Parade.  We didn't know where it would be we just knew it was on the Thames, so we got off at the Westminster tube stop and camped out under Big Ben.  We couldn't see the show very well, but hey who can complain.  I saw fireworks over the Thames, in London, 200 yards from Big Ben.  I love my life. 

Friday, 7 November 2008

Chapter Eleven

This week we went on a short jaunt to Wales and a bit of England that is next to Wales.  Our first stop was the Big Pit, which is a coal mine.  Basically it was awesome.  We got to go down in the mine and take a tour.  It was intense. We had to wear hard hats and leather belts with ventilators on them, in case the mine caved in or something. Basically we were looking really cute.  
Coal Mining Cuties. 
Our tour guide was a hilarious little Welsh man.  He told us all about how he did drugs once in Amsterdam and he would never do it again... basically my favorite middle aged Welsh coal miner ever.  The mine was awesome, but would be no fun to work in and made me so glad that I will never be a coal miner, even though I did love the hard hat ensemble.  

Our next stop was the Welsh Folk Museum.  It wasn't really a museum, but more like a Welsh Folk version of Disneyland.  There were all these old Welsh buildings that took you through all different aspects of Welsh life.  The whole area was very pretty and the autumn trees were my favorite.  Growing up in Newport didn't give a lot of opportunities to bask in autumn's loveliness.  So I did in Wales.  

I love autumn. 

Chicken fight in the Cock Pit.

The next day we went to Tintern Abbey, or what was left of Tintern Abbey.  When Henry VIII began the Church of England he had all the montessoris disolved.  The churches were stripped of everything, including the roof, so they fell into disrepair.  There are tons of Abbey ruins all over England.  I loved Tintern.  It was so beautiful and majestic.  In a way I thought it was almost more beautiful as the intact abbey's.  The mixture of the grand building and nature was really beautiful.  

The rest of the day we went on a church history tour of the Hereforshire area.  We visited the places where Wilford Woodruff taught.  It was really great to be able to see the places where miracles happened and learning about the difficulties that many early members of the church faced. One of my favorite places we visited was British Camp, Malvern Hill.  It wasn't really a british camp, but was used in a battle or something.  That wasn't why it was cool though.  It was this huge green hill.  When we got to the top we could see all of the countryside.  It was beautiful.  The sun broke through the clouds while we were up there and we could see the whole expanse of the Malvern hills and the fields and villages.  

I am still amazed by all things that I have done these past few months.  Whenever I look back at the things I have done it seems unreal.  Everyday is such an adventure, it seems unreal.  I have climbed to the top of the Malvern hills, explored ruins, and traipsed through tunnels 400 feet underground, and that was just these past two days. Somebody pinch me, please. 

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Chapter Ten

Fall is now leaving... off to bigger and better things I suppose, but what could be better than shielding me from winter? I don't know. The leaves have changed and fallen... fall has been so good to us.  It's been sunny and relatively warm, now it's full time glove and coat season, I guess it's good I brought four.  Hooray for overpacking! Today it rained. Hard. And it's dark early, and cold... but you know I love it. I don't know how that works. If I were in Provo I would be crying with this weather but somehow London makes it okay. It's charming freezing windy rain.  Is that possible? Yes indeed it is.  

Hello London Winter. 

Chapter Nine

Yesterday all my childhood dreams were fulfilled. 
I was finally Wendy from Peter Pan... in London no less. 

Captain Hook, Rufio, Tinkerbell, Wendy, and Tiger Lily in front of Big Ben.

Wendy and the prime meridian... I really am magical because I am in two places at once!

I'm flyiinggg. 

Hook is a codfish. 

The nursery with Michael and Tink. 

Wendy is a gansta. 

The whole group. Alex as Rufio. Brooke as Tinkerbell. Rebbie as Peter Pan. Me as Wendy. Sara as Tiger Lily. Jordyn as Hook. Marin as Michael. 

The end. It was one of the loveliest days of my life.