View from the London Eye

View from the London Eye
Panoramic View from the London Eye

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Wish I Knew French!

Ok, I know that you have all been waiting with baited breath for a rundown of my weekend in Paris.  Well let me start with Friday, which we spent seeing Paris in 12 hours!  We arrived after our twoish hour train ride and headed straight to the Louvre!  Here is the Louvre in an hour and a half:

Mona Lisa
Winged Victory
Venus De Milo
Got it?  Good!  Tip…Don’t try to do the Louvre in an hour and a half if you want to see more than this.  However, it was a good introduction to the museum and now I know what is there and what I really want to see the next time I visit Paris!  

During our trip around the Louvre I came to the conclusion that it is very difficult to be in a museum and not be able to read any of the information that goes along with the item…this was when I decided that I needed to learn some French.  My classmate Kalyca took on the challenge of attempting to teach me a little.

I failed miserably.  I kept trying to turn the French words into a word that it looked or sounded like in English.  Heres a couple examples:

Merci (Thank You) – Mercy
Sante (Cheers) – Saltie or santae
Rivoli (Name of a road) – Ravioli
Musee (Museum) – Muse

Some of these I did finally get the hang of but I still said Mercy today to a waiter as we were leaving the restaurant we were at for dinner before getting on the train to head back to London.

But continuing with our day…after our speed viewing of the Louvre we moved onto a sightseeing bus that took us all around Paris.  This was a great way to spend one of our first hours in the city; I got to see a lot in a short amount of time but I also was able to make note of the sites that I really wanted to come back and look at throughout the weekend.  It was also great because it brought us right to the foot of our next stop…The Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower
We spent a bit of time here just enjoying the site and also getting acquainted with the people trying to get some money out of you by having you sign a petition.  There were so many people there but it was an amazing sight to see!

Boat we took on the River Seine
We hopped back on the bus after seeing the Eiffel Tower to catch a boat ride down the Seine!  This was also another great way to see the city in a short amount of time.  Dr. Everhart popped a bottle of champagne to santé (cheers) our visit to Paris!


Us at Dinner!
Our final stop was an authentic French restaurant, where I tried to perfect my saying of Sante! (Ok so I said saltie a lot, my classmate Aubrey was sitting across from me and kept catching me saying it wrong).

I tried snails!  They were amazing!   
The musicians were great…they had a few of my classmates stand up and dance to the Macarena!  We had unlimited wine!  That’s all I am going to say about dinner ; )

After dinner those of us that were staying in Paris headed to our hotel, where we promptly fell asleep!  It was a very busy but perfect day in Paris!  More to come about the rest of my weekend tomorrow!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Off to the Theatre and Studying in the Library!

Last night we attended a showing of Anne Boleyn at The Globe Theatre...not Shakespeare's Globe but a recreation.  It was an amazing play that was actually set in the time of King James I.
The Globe Theatre
In the play he was recently crowned king and was having everything in the castle gone through when Queen Anne Boleyn's coronation gown is found.  This prompts King James to try to communicate with the deceased queen.  So, in one play we were shown two different time periods, Queen Anne's and King James'.  I actually learned quite a bit from this play too...did you know that some scholars believe that King James I was gay?  They played up that little tid bit of information in the play ; ).  

After the play we were set on a mission to attempt to take a few night photographs.  Here are a few examples of the photographs I was able to take:

St. Pauls Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, and the River Thames
Looking at St. Paul's Cathedral on the Millennium Bridge

The photograph was taken when I moved my camera with the night settings on, so the exposure was longer.  I though the effect was pretty cool

Today we took a visit to King's Cross Station, which some of you will know from the Harry Potter series, is where Platform 9 3/4 is located.  Well, right now King's Cross Station is undergoing some major renovations.
Zane and I are off to Hogwarts!
So, they had to move the landmark outside of the station.  Because of all of the construction and the landmark being moved much of the magic of visiting this spot was lost.  However, we didnt let that get us down and still took lots of pictures of each person pushing the cart through the barrier.  Zane even joined me in mine : )
Today we also visited the British Library.  For all of us future librarians this was something we were looking forward too.  We were given a tour of the library's treasure room, this room included a Gutenberg Bible, one of the four copies of the Magna Carta, the original sheet music to Handel's Messiah, a 1304 copy of the Qur'an, some examples of early Chinese printing, and rough drafts from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte.  We even got to see a postage stamp that is worth a million dollars!  I wish we had been allowed to take pictures so that I could share the treasures with all of you but sadly no photography allowed.

British Library Sign
After the treasures tour, some of us went to visit the other exhibit the library had about the history of Science Fiction.  This exhibit was also full of treasures, many first editions of books such as, Frankenstein, War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and many more.  Some authors even allowed their original writings to be displayed!  One part of the exhibit focused on alternate realities which was especially interesting because we had just come from seeing all of these important works that made history what it is today.  Together the two exhibits made a very unique dichotomy.
Outside the British Library

It was pretty amazing being in a library that has such a huge collection.  There are so many great works that you are able to view if you visit the British Library.  We were able to go into the reading rooms and some of us were even able to view books that the library offers.  The books that I requested (all about the history of football aka soccer) were not actually there, something happened with the dates in my registration but being in those reading rooms still gave me the feeling of what it would be like to come into the library and study.  There were manyg books that I would return to the library and read for fun if I could...I guess that is the librarian in me : )

Tomorrow we are off to Paris at...ouch I will not be posting until we get back on Sunday!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Food of England!

One of the things that I was really looking forward to when I decided to come on this Study Abroad program was the food I would get to eat while here in the UK!  I have not been disappointed!  Staying in the heart of London I have the opportunity to visit so many different restaurants, all within walking distance. 

Want to see some of the food I have tried while here in London...Watch this video!

I have already had the chance to try so many types of food...but guess what...we still have 5 more days here in England and 3 days in Paris!  Who knows what other foods are out there; I know I can't wait to find out!!!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cats, Cathedrals, and Emergency Toilet Breaks

So today one of our assignments is to post a 5 picture story.  When we were visiting the Salisbury Cathedral today there was a cat sitting in one of the cloisters.  I took its picture but it seemed to be camera shy and wouldnt sit still for anymore pictures so I just documented its walk out of the church:

A little more about Salisbury later.  I need to catch you up on yesterday! 

Yesterday we went to the Museum of London.  The exhibits in the museum document the history of London back to prehistoric times.
London Timeline
Ancient Roman Wall outside of the Museum

We were able to see artifacts dating back before the Roman occupation of Britain and the remains of the Roman Wall that was once built around the city.  There were exhibits of early books, dioramas showing how people used
Early Books Containing Writings of Sir. Thomas More
to live, short videos explaining the horror that was the Black Death, the tragedy of the Great Fire of 1666, and the terrible blitzes from World War II, and finally it also included more modern exhibits, such as, a history of street photography in London.  It was a really amazing museum with well organized exhibits.  It was a lot of history to see in such a short time!

Our next stop was St. Paul's Cathedral.  St. Paul's is actually the fifth cathedral that has stood on this site since 604 A.D.
St. Paul's from the Side
St. Paul's from the Front
This cathedral was built between 1675 and 1710 after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666.  It was designed by the famous architect Sir. Christopher Wren who built many other churches in and around London.  St. Paul's, though, was his crowning achievement, with its massive archways and its huge dome that sits atop the church.  Since it is a working church there are no photographs allowed inside but if you visit St. Paul's make sure to see the amazing mosaics that adorn the ceiling and attempt to walk up 500 + stairs to the galleries that are outside the dome to take pictures of the city.  I only made it up to the first gallery, called the whispering gallery, because if you sit on one side and whisper into the wall, a person sitting on the other side will be able to hear you : ) ...whisper...hello...whisper

Today our first stop before Salisbury was the mysterious Stonehenge.  It is estimated that Stonehenge was built in 3100 B.C.  It was built in three stages.  The first stage would have seen the building of the ditch and bank around the site.  The second stage was the arrival of the smaller bluestones, there are 82 of them in all.
The final stage of the building of Stonehenge in 2000B.C. brought the arrival of the Sarsen stones, the huge
Zane posing with Stonehenge
stones that you can see in these pictures that make up most of Stonehenge. 

We still do not know the true purpose of Stonehenge.  It could be that each group to utilize the stones had a different purpose but it is probably a mystery that will remain for the foreseeable future (unless someone invents a time machine and we are able to travel back to 3100B.C. and ask :).

Our final stop today was the Salisbury Cathedral.  The building of this cathedral began in 1220 and was completed in just 38 years.  Not only is
Salisbury Cathedral
Our Blue Badge Guide, Sean
this church in amazing condition for being almost 800 years old, it is also the home to one of the four remaining Magna Carta documents, which was completed and sealed in 1215.

After visiting the cathedral, we walked around the quaint town of Salisbury, had lunch, took a look around the street market, and had a pint in the Lazy Cow pub.  This lead to, probably, the most important lesson I have learn since my time began here in London...dont drink a pint of beer before a 2 and a half hour bus ride!!!
Pints at the Lazy Cow Pub

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Day Trip to Oxford!

“I wonder if anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all like an opera.”
                                                    ~ William Butler Yeats

Oxford is a city most people associate with academia and yes much of the city is devoted to the colleges that reside there, but Oxford is also a place filled with literary history...and some great places to shop! : )

If you were ever curious about what there is to do when visiting Oxford watch this video, and take notes, so that the next time you are in England you can take in these amazing sites!

When we visited Oxford last week we went to all of these places.  The city just has an air of knowledge and history; it really was an amazing place to visit!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend Wrap-Up

The past three days have been full to the brim with activity.  So let me catch you up!

On Friday, we went to the British Museum!
The British Museum
 Where we were able to view the all-important Rosetta Stone and the famous Elgin Marbles!
The Elgin Marbles
The Elgin Marbles

 Zane and his friend Crumpet even got excited about the they are posing with the Gayer-Anderson Cat in the Egyptian section of the museum.

Zane, Crumpet, and the Gayer-Anderson Cat
 The British Museum is huge and on this trip I was only able to see 3 of the sections the museum has, the Egyptian, the Syrian, and the Greek.  As an aspiring museum employee it was really interesting to see how this huge museum set up their exhibits, what information they address at each exhibit, and how they handle the vast number of people that come into their facility everyday.  I am planning on taking another trip back to the museum to see more of their amazing collection!

On Saturday, 2 of my classmates, Jackie and Christina, and myself took a trip to Portobello Road.

Jackie and Christina posing by the Notting Hill Library
On our way to Portobello Road the three of us stumbled upon the newly opened Notting Hill Library.

It was the perfect small town library and all three of us were gushing about how much we would love to work there :).

Finally, we arrived at Portobello Road.  On Saturdays this quiet street near Notting Hill turns into a huge street market!  People from all over converge on this one street searching for the best deals on antiques, jewelry, souvenirs, flowers, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Portobello Road Market
Portobella Road was a great outing, the one bad thing...only ONE bathroom (that we were able to find).  None of the shops will let market goers use their toilets on Saturdays because there are so many people.  But the only public toilet was one of the newer ones that cleans itself after every visitor.  This would be all fine and dandy if there werent hundreds of people in that one area.  I had to wait in the bathroom line for at least half an hour...ugh.  But other than that we had a great Saturday!

Saturday night a group of us went out for Chinese in China town then went to sing karaoke at a pub called Molly Moggs...Betty (whose real name will remain secret ; ) and Angela rocked the house!!!

Chinese Dinner!

To finish up the weekend, on Sunday a group of us went to visit the Tower of London where we were able to see the Crown Jewels, a few of the prison cells, and the spot where the queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were executed.

The Tower of London
 Overall, it was a very busy weekend but so fun and educational : )!

Friday, July 22, 2011

West End Musicals!

So far I have only been able to attend one musical performance since we have been in London, Billy Elliot: The Musical.  However, London's West End is home to some of the most amazing musicals in the world!

The Victoria Palace Theatre, playing Billy Elliot
Theatre has been a part of Londoner society since the 1570s and has only grown in importance.  The first West End theatre was build in 1663 on Drury Lane and even though it was destroyed by the fire in 1672 it was rebuilt, thus beginning the tradition of building theatres in the West End of London.

Many of the buildings that still stand in the West End were built in the 19th century and have continued to have a secure place in the West End area.

**Musical Posters were gathered from 
As of today shows such as The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Wicked, The Lion King, Billy Elliot: The Musical, Chicago, Betty Blue Eyes, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia, and We Will Rock You are playing on West End stages.  And there are new musicals coming out every year.  In the coming months new productions such as, Matilda: The Musical and Rock of Ages will grace the London stages for the first time.

It is an exciting time to be in the musical business, not only for the performers, but for the audiences as well!

Listen to my podcast to learn more about the history of London's West End and about 3 musicals being performed there!

Dalglish, D. (1995). London Theatre Guide. Retrieved from

Les Miserables. (2011). Retrieved from

Lloyd, M. (2001). London’s West End Theatres. Retrieved from

Mistyaho. (2007, Oct 27). [Les Miserables] 10th anniversary - On My Own [Video file]. Retrieved from 

Rock of Ages. (2011). Retrieved from

The Phantom of the Opera. (2011). Retrieved from

Theatreland History. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Subways, Buses, and Trains...Oh My!

Today we went to Oxford!  Exciting right!  Well sorry, I am actually going to hold off posting all of the details of this trip until this weekend because I will be posting a video along with the blog of the day!

Even though I am not going into what we did today our trip on the train to Oxford inspired me to write about how much I love the public transportation system here in London!  I wish we had more trains/subways/buses in Florida.  I know that some cities have metros and buses but nothing like this!

The National Rail, which is what we took today to get from Paddington Station in London to Oxford, is a huge network of railways that leads all over the UK.  You can connect to this rail service from the Underground in London, the airports, or any of the major cities. 
On the Train to Oxford
The Tube is one of the major forms of transportation for many Londoners. 
On the Underground
The Underground is one of the most efficient and easiest forms of travel.

Londoners are able to gain quick access to all Tube routs and buses because of what is called an Oyster Card.  All the passenger has to do is place their card on one of the readers in the stations and wait for the light to turn green.  Using this system is very easy and allows one to get through the underground stations quickly which decreases passenger congestion!

In connection with The Tube are London's Red Double Decker Buses (sorry no 3 story purple buses here). 
Red Double Decker Buses

Riding on the Bus after Billy Elliot
On the Bus for a Tour
The buses are great not only for getting around town quickly but also for seeing the sights of London; from the top of the bus you can see all of the shops, attractions, old buildings, advertisements, and the people.

Overall, the public transportation system in London and the UK has been top notch!  I have not had any problems using any of the forms, which is a good sign that a city has a good transportation system because I am not always the best a reading maps : ). 

By having an easy to use transportation system the UK is making travel easy and efficient not only for tourists and visitors but also for the residents of this fine country!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

Regent's Park
Today we took a relaxing stroll through Regent's Park, up to Primrose Hill to fly kites (like in Mary Poppins), and down Abbey Road where the Beatles's iconic album cover by the same name was taken. 

Regent's Park is the largest grass area in Central London and hosts an open air theatre, the London Zoo, and many cafes.  In the middle of the park is Queen Mary's Garden which primarily houses an array of differently colored roses. 
Rose from Queen Mary's Garden

It was beautiful to the eyes but also the nose...I wanted to roll around in the flowerbeds so that I could smell like the roses for the rest of the day!

The park was also full of wildlife.  Pigeons and Ducks were everywhere!

Zane trying to get in and play with the ducks!
Regent's Park contained everything that I believe a park should.  There were sections where visitors could enjoy the flowers, sit by the lake, have lunch, watch a show, play a sport, or fly a kite.  It amazes me that such a place could exist right in the middle of the bustling town that is London!

Duck Family in Regent's Park
To the north of Regent's Park lies Primrose Hill, which you may recognize from a little movie called Mary Poppins, where we had a picnic lunch and attempted to fly kites like in the movie.  My kite stayed in the air for all of 5 seconds before it drove straight into the groups and broke : (.  As I was on my way back to the picnic area I fell in some slick mud which ended up covering my whole left side.  Needless to say I was done with flying kites.  Others, though, had a lot of success and had their kites flying high with few problems...grumble, grumble, stupid kites, grumble...

Flying Kites on Primrose Hill

Our final stop for the day was Abbey Road where the Beatles recorded their album also named Abbey Road at Abbey Road Studios.
Abbey Road

Today the studio was under construction so we were not able to get a good look at it but were able to take a walk across the cross walk where the album cover for Abbey Road was taken!  Visit the Abbey Road Studios Web Cam to see if they got a picture of us walking across the road today! 

We were even able to sign the wall outside of the studio!  It is an inspirational place for people to come and remember one of the greatest bands of all time!

The wall outside Abbey Road Studios