Sunday, September 14, 2008

Exciting News!!!

Attention: I am finally caught up/finished with my London blog!!!! Of course I couldn't possibly write down every little thing that happened, every little experience, but at least I got a big chunk of it down to help me remember this incredible time.  

Friday, September 5, 2008


so i don't know if anyone still checks this, but hold your horses, i'm still trying to get around to catching up my blog on my london adventure... it's just always a little crazy the first week of school!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Real Home Again

Now that I'm actually home in good ol' Gilbert, I can finally take a little bit of a breather.  JUST KIDDING!! I leave in two days to go back to Provo!  But really, this was all worth it.  Even with the Shingles, even with the craziness and whatever other small insignificant downers occurred, my trip was incredible.

I am SO SO SO grateful for this opportunity I had to see a little bit more of the world.  I have always wanted to go to Europe, and not only did I get to LIVE in London for seven weeks, but I got to travel to FIVE other countries afterwards!  This whirlwind of a trip is something I am definitely going to remember for the rest of my life.  I'm so grateful for everything that helped make it possible: BYU, my grades, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, MY PARENTS.  

PS- for a more sentimental and sappy post, see "Goodbye to London"

Home Again

After a pretty snazzy trip on the Eurostar (the superfast train that goes from Paris to London across the English Channel aka Chunnel) we got to St. Pancras train station, and I breathed out a sigh of relief, the breath that I had been holding the whole 9 days I was in countries I had zero communication skills in. I felt like I was home.

I got Mom an Oyster Card (Tube Pass) and went on our way- Victoria Line, transfer to Central Line, off on Queensway. We got off at the Tube Station and there were tons and tons of people, tons of policemen, and it was just weird. Not like it used to be.

We walked just around the corner to our hotel, dropped off our stuff, and then I was excited to show Mom the London Centre (well, the outside of it) and how awesome of an area it was to live in. Yet again, more people, more policemen, and lots and lots of garbage on the streets. I reassured Mom over and over again that it was different when I lived there, but still, it was really crowded and gross. Palace Court though was quiet as always.

We walked a little bit through Kensington Gardens and then got a Waffle on Queensway (there aren't just any waffles, these basically taste like donuts and have chocolate, caramel, whatever on top. So good.) I had to do a little last-minute souvenir shopping for my brothers because my shingles kind of messed up my plans for the last part of my time in London, so we did that and went back to the hotel. It was super early, but we were super exhuasted. So, we went to bed.

The next morning was kind of unevenful. We got up early, took the Tube to Victoria train station, and a train to Gatwick airport.

Also, we found out why all the chaos: The SECOND BIGGEST CARNIVAL IN THE WORLD (Rio is #1) is at Notting Hill. That's why it was psycho. Haha

I saw so many cool cities and did so many cool things, but still, I think that London will always hold a special place in my heart.

The Last of Paris

My last day in Paris was definitely a good way to end my adventures "abroad". I went back to Notre Dame because Mom and Dad said it was something I would regret not doing later. The climb up was reminiscent of St. Paul's, but the view was so much different. Paris is beautiful. I thought looking down on the city was so cool (apparent by how many pictures I took), and the gargoyles were pretty sweet too. I wish I could see what they looked like when it rains and the water comes through their mouths. Anyway, it was just awesome.

See the Eiffel Tower in the distance??

One of the bells. I really feel like I need to watch The Hunchback of Notre Dame again

We had some time before we had to leave, so we stopped by the "Arc de Triomphe". It's just in the middle of this roundabout street, but it's so big and cool looking.

We walked by the Eiffel Tower one last time.  It's amazing to me that a hunk of metal can be so beautiful.

After our stroll around London, Dad had to go since he was flying out of Paris, but Mom and I still had a couple hours to kill before we needed to head back to the airport, so we took a boat tour along the Seine River. It was really cool because most of the neat sights are along the river, and since we didn't get to see everything on foot I got to see quite a bit more. And I liked the audio guide because seriously, knowing the history behind what I'm seeing makes it so much better (we actually had a Rick Steve's Guide to Paris and I read almost the entire thing on the way home because I learned so much about the city, famous artists, and it was just cool).

I'm pretty sure that Paris is my favorite city I saw on my 10-day adventure.

The City of Light

We woke up pretty early Sunday morning and headed out to see the Louvre before Sacrament meeting.  Unfortunately, Mom's Metro Pass got deactivated somehow, so we got held up while we talked to the extremely grumpy French Metro workers to get a new one (everyone in Paris has been friendly, which kind of surprised me after all the stories I've heard about snooty French people- only the Metro workers seem to be mean).  

So anyway, we finally got to the Louvre, and the triangle-thing you enter into was actually a lot cooler than I expected.  And the Louvre is HUGE!  There was no way we were going to be able to cover very much of it, so we headed straight to the Mona Lisa (and of course stopped along the way if anything caught our eye).
And here is the Mona Lisa.  I was kind of surprised at how small it was, and also that you couldn't get any closer than I'm standing in this picture, but that's okay.  It was incredible to me that a painting has the potential to make so much fuss.  There were a lot of people around me (and it wasn't even very crowded since it had just opened), people from all over the world, and everyone was taking pictures of the Mona Lisa.  I doubt Da Vinci had any idea that his painting would be so so famous.  (Also, I look kind of funny in this picture and I'm going to blame it on pain from my shingles: I was in a lot of pain so I couldn't sleep the night before and I was just in a lot of pain in general during the day, too)
We spent some more time at the Louvre, seeing the Venus de Milo, and some Rembrandt's, Dad's favorite painter.  I really liked the Louvre, but I was definitely okay to leave when we did.  (I think it was probably because I had been to tons of museums in London, and we there were other things in Paris that I wanted to see).

Church in French was interesting, but I definitely understood none of it.  It was still good to go to church though.  I asked some missionaries if they knew Elder Fairbourn, my friend from Freshman Year, and they did! (But he's in Southern France right now).

Next, we took the train to Versailles.  I was blown away at how huge it is, and this picture does nothing at all to show it (unfortunately I didn't take many pictures).  I thought Schonebrunn in Vienna was incredibly big and gaudy, but it PALED in comparison to Versailles.  It was super crowded, but we did audio tours through the main palace...
...including the Hall of Mirrors (which is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending WWI).
Us in one of the mirrors!
A view of the gardens from one of the windows.  The gardens went out as far as the eye could see.  It was incredible.
A very very small glimpse of the gardens.  I would have loved to walk around, but it was cold and rainy and we didn't have jackets (which was making me in even more pain from my Shingles... not that I'm totally complaining because it was still awesome to be here, but yah...).  Anyway, I had no idea how huge Versailles is, and that you have to walk for like a half an hour through the gardens to even get to Marie Antoinette's palace! 
Once again, the Eiffel Tower.  Even though it's cloudy, I like this picture.
We ended the day with a trip up the Eiffel Tower.  It was really cool to see the lights of the "City of Light", and some of the big places like Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe were lit up in a way that made them glow.  And also, I don't really know why it was blue and sparkly, but it was cool anyway.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart" (thank you Anastasia)

By the time we got to Paris and checked into our hotel, it was mid-afternoon: Time to see Paris!

We started at Notre Dame (I wanted to go to the top, but we didn't have much time...)
Cool stained glass inside Notre Dame
This is "Les Invalides", where Napoleon's tomb resides in a crypt under the dome.  Unfortunately, it was closed already, so we didn't get to go inside, but it was still cool to see.

I liked this street because it's basically a cross between mine and Amelia's name!
The Eiffel Tower!... and Me!! (and it's super cloudy)

We ate at this nice little restaurant.  I got fish and it was so good.


This is Lucerne (or Luzern in the German spelling).  It's a little city in the middle of the Swiss Alps, and it's really pretty.

This is probably my favorite picture of Lucerne.  The bridge and water tower are really old and the bridge was pretty cool to walk across.
This is Lowendenkmal, or the Dying Lion of Lucerne.  It was sculpted in the 1800s as a monument to Swiss soldiers that died defending the Tuileries.  Mark Twain once called it "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world".  It was actually breathtaking.

I like taking cloud pictures
Lake Lucerne

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Venezia to Luzern

Today marks country #6 of my summer (England, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland). 6 down, 1 to go (France). I can’t believe how fast everything is going by. I’m out of clean clothes, leaving me desperate enough to handwash in the bathroom sink. Yaaaahhh buddy (that was for David).

This morning Mom and I enjoyed the fancy breakfast at the hotel made by the fancy hotel owner Matteo. Then, we walked around the markets surrounded by tons and tons of fruit and tons and tons of fish. We went souvenir shopping (I got a mask… like masquerade mask, something that Venice is pretty famous for), then checked out and took the water bus (“vaporetto”) over to the train station.

I look really tired...but the scenery is beautiful

The train rides and transfers went successfully. The second train ride, from Milano to Zurich, was beautiful. When we weren’t going through tunnels, we saw the incredibly beautiful Alps, and the sparkling lakes and all the trees and cute cottage houses. It doesn’t really seem real yet that I’m here in the Alps (in Lucerne… Luzern is how it’s really spelled) because all I’ve really seen is through the train windows. Tomorrow I’ll get to see the wonder of the Alps without glass in the way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Venezia aka Venice

I successfully made it through my night-train with the cabin full of people that I couldn't understand, got to the beautiful city of Venice, took a bus-type-boat to a certain area and met up with Mom after about an hour of waiting. Hooray!

Venice is exactly what I imagined. It's breathtaking. Amazingly, peeling paint and algae water make for beautiful beautiful scenery. Ahhh.
After checking into our hotel, we walked around, took the bus/boat to the glass-blowing island of Murano and looked around, and did some more walking around. We ate lunch at this fancy cafe right next to the water's edge. I am being so spoiled.

This is Rialto Bridge, and on Saturdays there's a huge market (well I think it's just on Saturdays, I'm not really sure)
This is a church where St. Mark (???) is buried
This is on Murano, the glass-blowing island.  Really the only difference I noticed is that it's a lot less crowded than the actual big island is.
Probably my favorite part of today was our gondola ride. We went at twilight, and I know I'm overusing the word, but it was beautiful.

This is our Gondolier: he was so funny because #1- usually the Gondolier's are young, suave Italian men, #2- he didn't really seem to know much English, so instead of telling us what we were seeing, he just kept mumbling and grumbling.  It was funny.  #3- right after this picture he gave me a kiss on the cheek!
We finished off the day with a chocolate and banana crepe. What a perfect day.