Cheers, Mate!

Well kids, the end of my European adventure has finally arrived. 48 days abroad and I’m ready to go back already!  The last days in London were amazing (duh, I was in London!).

Click below for more pictures of my last days in London

I am so grateful to have had this experience and would suggest the program (or any other study abroad) to students everywhere.  Traveling internationally on my own was a gratifying experience–I feel so accomplished having handled customs and passport checks so many times (I added 6 stamps to my passport 🙂 ).  Thank you all for reading my travel blog, I really appreciate all the comments that I’ve received.  Please continue to follow me over at my regular blog. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer and got to experience new places for yourself. I’d love to hear about it, so please feel free to leave me comments below.

July 22, 2011. Tags: , , , , . London. Leave a comment.

P.S. I Love…Ireland

Dia dhuit! That’s hello in Gaelic. 🙂

Can you guess where I spent my three day weekend?  Yup, Ireland!  I will be the first to tell you all that it was possibly one of the best weekends of my life.  First of all, you have to love the fact that within Europe you can travel to a number of different countries in a matter of hours and for a relatively low cost.  Despite the fact that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were so jam-packed that I don’t recall every minute (due to exhaustion), I do recall that it was fabulous weather (only rained for 20 minutes the whole weekend), a beautiful country, and an experience that will last a lifetime.

Friday and Sunday were our days to spend in Dublin, which is possibly one of my new favorite cities. Small and clean, while still big city-esque. There are more than enough pictures to explain what we (my four friends that went as well: Stephanie, Rachael, Lindsey, and Cassie) did, but here is a list of the big things we saw. The Dublin Zoo, Kilmainham Gaol (one of the old jails that held famous prisoners), Dublinia (museum of what medieval Dublin would have looked liked), the Dublin Castle, Christ church, St. Patrick’s Church, the Wax Museum, Trinity College (and the book of Kells), the Guinness Factory, and the Jameson distillery.  You can check out a subset of the hundreds of photos I took at the link below.

Click below to see more pictures of our trip to Dublin

Saturday, the day we didn’t stay in the city, four of us took a bus tour around Wicklow National Park.  For those of you movie buffs, you will recall that this is the location where Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank meet in the movie P.S. I Love You.  This “park” is by far the most beautiful park I have ever seen.  Green hills go on for miles, and with bright blue skies it was particularly gorgeous.  I will let the photos talk for themselves because no amount of words can describe how awe-inspiring Wicklow is. Enjoy 🙂

July 11, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Ireland. 1 comment.

Billy, Harry, and Hermione… oh my!

It feels like my life has been filled with plays and movie “stuff” galore these past few days. Yesterday, I went to the play Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theater and today I went to the Harry Potter premiere in Trafalagar Square and saw the actors of the series walk the red carpet!

I have never been a huge musical fan–the idea that people just break into song while walking down the street just seems a little far fetched for an otherwise realistic scene–but Billy Elliot was fabulous.  The emotion the actors conveyed was tangible from the audience perspective, and the singing skills that “Billy” had were absolutely fantastic.  There aren’t too many pictures, but please check them out below 🙂

Click below to see more pictures of our trip to see Billy Elliot

Today, along with about 1000 other people, I went to the Harry Potter premiere.  Although I didn’t get to see the witchy-actors up close, I was able to see them on the big projector screen.  Thankfully the zoom on my camera works wonders.  There was one actor I did get to see up close (about 30 feet away) and that was Darren Criss from Glee.  I have to admit being pushed by the crowds did get a bit old after an hour or so, but it was neat to see such a huge following for the final film (even though I’m not a religious Harry Potter watcher).

Click below to see more pictures of the Harry Potter 7 premiere

July 7, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . London. Leave a comment.

It’s a bit chilly in here…

Hello again!

Today I went with my friends Rachael and Monica to the ice bar.  There are a few ice bars around Europe, but the one here in London has quite the following, and now I understand why!  Of course, being frozen like a popsicle for 40 minutes doesn’t sound like the best idea until of course you are literally in a giant room made of ice.  They provided us with the lovely blue parkas and gloves, while we sipped on delicious drinks (served in cups made of ice, of course).  Overall the experience was really fun and the three of us had a great time thawing out afterward at a sushi restaurant called Wasabi.

 

Click below to see more pictures of the ice bar

July 6, 2011. Tags: , , , . London. Leave a comment.

Notting Hill

Happy 4th of July!!

Today as a class we all went and explored the Notting Hill area of London.  It was a great little spot with lots of antique shops and even a mexican restaurant!! I highly suggest this area as a place to just walk around for any of you reading this who are planning on heading to London anytime in the future.  Check out the photos below.

 

I’m off to the New Globe for a 4th of July (British-style) party, be safe with all of your fireworks!

July 4, 2011. Tags: , , , . London. Leave a comment.

Why yes, I am American…

Saturday was a touristy kind of day for my friend Rachael and I.  We decided to take a full day to visit some of the most popular locations in London and just be THOSE annoying people! (well maybe not THOSE people, but we definitely acting like tourists)

This is just a quickie post to show the pictures off because these locations: Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and M&M’s World are all pretty self explanatory.

So first, we visited Buckingham Palace. As most people know this is the home to the Queen herself, and this is where the famous changing of the guards happens everyday.  There were probably 1 or 2 thousand people passing by/standing to watch the procession, which in all honesty was not nearly as exciting as one would hope for being so famous.  The guards were all nicely put together with their big hats and red coats, and walking in perfect formation, but when one expects “pomp and circumstance,” and only gets “pomp” it is a little bit of a let down. Anywhoo, Rachael and I had fun mocking some of the police officers who were directing people like it was a life or death situation.  Enjoy the pictures 🙂

After the palace, we ventured over to Westminster Abbey which is next to the Houses of Parliament building (where Big Ben is–check out pictures of those buildings here).  Unfortunately Westminster Abbey is somewhat expensive to go into (about $30 U.S. per person), so Rachael and I just enjoyed a cup of coffee while wandering around the outside of it.  The abbey was quite beautiful, and the grounds around it were also very pleasant–nicely manicured lawns, with many people picnicking.  Of course, as a “Friends” addict, I had to continue to use references from the episode based in London to add some excitement to my photos.  If you forgot my first instance of this, check out this picture.  While you’re scrolling through my Westminster pictures, you will see me attempting at another dorky reenactment–the video reference is below the picture, so be sure to check the link out.

Our final destination of the day was to visit M&M’s World.  You may not be familiar with this attraction, as there are only four in the world: Orlando, Vegas, New York, and LONDON! Essentially this building was four levels of everything M&M’s—memorabilia, statues, and of course real M&M’s nicely laid out in color coordinated tubes around the walls. I don’t know that there is any more description needed, but definitely check out those photos too because who wouldn’t want to see life sized versions of M&M’s dressed up in appropriately London attire!

To see all these pictures, check out my “Tourist Day” photo page, which has pictures from all three of these locations combined into one album.

Cheers,

Megan

July 3, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . London. Leave a comment.

London, baby!

‘Ello Everyone!

I have officially been in London for over a week now, and let me be the first to say it is absolutely spectacular!  The city is a beautiful mix of old and new architecture surrounded by lots of lush greenery.  I have been up to a lot this past week (thus the reason it has taken a week to post anything on here), so I will try to keep my commentary brief, and trust me, my pictures are plentiful! 🙂

First off, last weekend when we all first arrived, we took a bus tour (the hop on-hop off type) followed by a boat tour.  This was a great way to see the city because it gave you a sneak peak of what all we were going to see here in London. Basically we got to see most of the big tourist attractions with some other random facts thrown in, which was great after having stayed up all night the day before–I was able to listen and watch without having to also stand vertically!  The boat tour was especially great because the guide was young, and very witty…most of us were in stitches laughing so hard.  Anyway, most of the photos are pretty self explanatory, but I have been trying to give better descriptions in the photo title, so be sure to read the info above the pictures as you click through them.

P.S. this particular album has more photos than the rest of them, so you might want to save it until the end if you are running low on time.

Click below to see more pictures of my first days in London

Also while in the “intro” period of getting to London, we took a group tour around the “East End” where we are living.  The best part of this is that the 2012 Olympic arena is being built about 10 minutes from Queen Mary’s University (where I am living/studying) to help revamp the less wealthy end of London. I love the Olympics, so it was pretty amazing to see where people will be competing, as well as be able to recognize the locations when I see them on TV next year.

Click below for more pictures of the East End & the Olympic arena

Not only have the excursions as a whole group been great, the excursions with just my class have been awesome.  I am taking a communication class, of course, and honestly there are no better people than COMM majors to hang out with–unless of course you like to be able to get a word in edgewise, then you might not like us so much! haha.

One of the trips we took as a class was to see “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Globe Theater.  The Globe was the location of Shakespeare’s famous performances and the venue is still breathtaking.  What was really fantastic about this play (aside from the great acting and satirical commentary) was the fact that Joseph Marcell, who played Geoffrey (affectionately called “G”) on Fresh Prince of Bel Air, was one of the main characters!

Click below for more pictures of the Globe Theater

Thankfully, Professor Bowman decided that part of our class budget should include an afternoon of “High Tea.” This experience could have ended my trip right then and there. The food, the tea, and the service were all amazing, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with my high tea experience (it was even in a really beautiful boutique hotel called the Capital).  We even told the waitstaff that it was one of our classmate’s birthdays, and we got a delicious chocolate and raspberry cake that could have put even the most experienced of chocoholics into a sugar-coma (warning: the pictures will have you drooling on your keyboard if you look too long!).

Click below for more pictures from High Tea at the Capital Hotel

Of course, a trip to London would not be complete without an experience like going to Wimbledon, especially since it only happens for a few weeks a year. So another day Dr. Bowman took us to Wimbledon where we all enjoyed Strawberries & Cream, a traditional treat to eat while watching the matches.  Unfortunately it was POURING rain while we were there, so it was a short lived trip, but the town of Wimbledon (which we walked through from the tube stop) was darling and just being able to have visited where so many famous tennis players have been over the years–not to mention the royal family–was a surreal kind of experience.

Click below for more pictures at Wimbledon

The last major trip I am covering with this blog post was our day trip to Oxford.  Talk about an amazing day.  It was a glorious day weather-wise, and the atmosphere of the town was divine.  Once again, like my experience of going to Brugge, I realized just how much I love being just outside of the busy city.  Oxford’s campus, despite being completely spread out, is beautifully maintained, and even has a museum on its property–there are quite a few pictures from inside the museum.  The wonderful little pub we all stopped at called the Turf Tavern was adorable (all 6 feet of it) and made us delicious drinks before heading out to explore the town further.  I definitely suggest that anyone who visits London should take the time to visit Oxford, it is only a 50 or so minute ride on a train, but it feels like the England you see in movies with adorable streets lined with historic homes and emerald-colored trees.

Click below for more pictures of Oxford

I hope everyone reading this is having a great summer, I know I am 🙂  Please check back soon, as I am going to try and do a brief update in a day or two with pictures of Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and more!

July 2, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . London. 1 comment.

Au Revoir Paris

Well folks, the time has come.  I have left Paris to continue my journey this summer in London.

I can’t believe how incredibly fast the month went by. The amount of gratitude I have for being able to take this trip while still only 21 years old is simply incomprehensible.  Paris was an absolutely wonderful city, filled with many smells (both good and bad), fabulous food, beautiful sights, and I made some really incredible friends. I am one lucky girl.

Not surprisingly it was really hard to leave Paris. I became attached to the apartment we lived in, our neighborhood, and just having the feeling of living like a Parisian–no college campus feel, freedom to explore, and of course, taking the metro!

The last week of being in Paris literally flew by, and I don’t even know that I remember it all because the days began to blur together.  I do remember however, that I went to the Louvre museum (the famous one with the big glass Pyramid outside).  The artifacts, sculptures, paintings, etc… were all beautiful.  Of course, I saw work by Michelangelo, I saw the Mona Lisa, and the Egyptian exhibit was fascinating, full of sphnixes, hieroglyphics, and beautiful vases and jewelry.

The second major event that I have yet to blog about is my trip to Brugge, which in short, was one of my favorite days during my first month in Europe.  Despite rather crummy weather for most of the day there, spending time outside of the busy city of Paris was a great getaway.  We strolled along the canals that Brugge is famous for, took a boat tour, and enjoyed Belgian waffles and fries (not together of course).  This trip truly reaffirmed my desire to live just outside of a big city.  Brugge had great amenities like a big city, but still felt safe and comfortable. I know that is a brief description, but I will let the photos do the talking, so please check out the pictures from Brugge!

 Click below for more photos from Brugge, Belgium.

After returning to Paris from Brugge, I had a few more great experiences, one of which was visiting the Champs-Élysées. This is the large shopping street that leads to the Arc de Triomphe, another amazing architecturally beautiful monument by the French.

Click below for more photos from the Champs-Élysées

Another really amazing adventure I took in Paris was to visit the Père Lachaise cemetery. This is where Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and hundreds more famous people are burried.  Although it seems a bit morbid to think this was cool, the actual grounds were really neat to see in person, and the trees made for some great photos.

 Click below for more photos from Père Lachaise

I know this isn’t a very good blogging thing to do, but I didn’t have the patience to load all the photos from the remainder of my trip into separate pages and go through to select the best ones, so I selected some of my favorites and put them into one large gallery. I know, I know, I will probably go to Blogger Purgatory.

  Click below for more photos of my miscellaneous adventures in Paris

Anywhoo….. France is over, but I still have another 3 weeks in Europe, visiting London and potentially Dublin for a weekend.  I will try to blog about that more frequently, but I make no promises as I am already exhausted and I have only been in London for a day and ahalf.  Regardless, remember to keep checking in to see when I write new posts about my adventures here.

June 25, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Paris. 1 comment.

gardens. churches. six million parisians.

well hello everyone!

I thought I would post a quickie blog (not like the behemoth one from last time) to update everyone.  I have a midterm tomorrow in my media & conflict class, so I need to get studying, but here is the lowdown on what I’ve been up to since the last post.

USD students all went on a second “field trip,” to Chartres and Giverny on Thursday.  Chartres was an absolutely gorgeous Cathedral with spectacular stained glass windows, all of which tell their own story.  The town itself was equally as cute from what we saw, but the cold weather sent us inside.  The bus ride between Chartres and Giverny was possibly the most relaxing part of this trip as of yet.  I remembered to bring my best friend (my iPod) with me on the trip, so as we drove through some of the most gorgeous countryside I have ever seen, I was able to let my mind wander while rockin’ out to some tunes.  After driving over a bridge in a huge charter bus–anyone who knows me, is aware that bridges and I aren’t exactly best friends–and then taking a short walk, we arrived at Monet’s gardens.  Many of you may be familiar with his paintings of the lily pond–this is where we went.  The gorgeous flowers planted everywhere around his home, including the ones surrounding the pond were absolutely gorgeous and the setting was simply tranquil.  If there had been time (and if it was allowed), having a picnic among the flowers would have been ideal.  Sorry to have rambled on, I promised to make this short, so please check out the links below to see some of the photos from Chartres and Giverny.

 

Click below for more photos from Chartres

Click below for more photos from Giverny/Monet’s garden

Another really amazing tourist sight that I encountered here in Paris in the last week, were the catacombs.  For those of you who don’t know, the catacombs hold the remains of over six million Parisians.   The experience of passing millions of bones in tiny walkways is impossible to describe.  At a certain point, you don’t actually process that the “walls” you are walking past are not walls at all, but stacks and stacks of femurs, tibias, fibulas, and skulls.  The particularly “freaky” aspect of this excursion was learning (afterward) that when walking through the catacombs, you are six stories underground!  You can check out the photos below, no worries they aren’t too scary.

Click below for more photos from the Catacombs

I have had some other really amazing adventures as well, but I just cannot put off studying for another minute, so check back in a few days and I will try to post some pictures and info about my journeys.

June 12, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Paris. 1 comment.

I’ll be a horse if I can live here

Hello everyone!

Sorry I have been a lacking in the blogging department lately, a small cold pretty much knocked me on my tush, and the slow internet does not work well with my impatient nature!  We are so lucky in the US to have such speedy internet, I will never complain about mine again (haha, yea right!). Buckle up, this is a long blog post–I suggest grabbing a cup of coffee or tea, and getting comfy before reading this.

Anyway, so here’s what I’ve been up to.  Since my last post, I have visited the Eiffel Tower, gone to my first french night club (which was on a boat!), and gone on two castle tours.  Additionally, I went to see a stand-up/improv performance by Olivier Giruad and experienced some pretty crazy weather.

The Eiffel Tower was last week with my three roommates, Alexandra, Colette, and Rachael–we had fun getting dressed up to take pictures in front it! I don’t think that “Le Tour Eiffel” needs much explaining, as it is such an iconic symbol, but let me tell you (if you don’t already know from personal experience) it is way bigger in person than I realized! I knew it would be pretty huge, but when you stand at the base and look up, you feel pretty tiny.  My roommates and I are going to try and take the tour that goes to the top, but apparently the lines and tickets are long and expensive–fingers crossed that we can do it!

Click below to see more Eiffel Tower pictures

A new experience while here in the lovely capital of France, was going out on the Bateau Concorde Atlantique, a night club in a boat docked in the Seine river. I really enjoyed being able to get out and dance the night away. Here is a picture of me, Alexandra (one of my roomies), Stephanie, and Lindsey.

On Saturday, most of the University of San Diego students took a trip to the castles in Chantilly and Pierrefonds. Despite the fact that I have seen castles elsewhere previously, I was still in awe.

In Chantilly, there are stables that make the White House look like it belongs in a trailer park.  Everyone kept commenting on the fact that the horses that live in the stables have a better life than most people–thus the name of this post’s title.  The horses trained there are some of the most elite horses in the country, still used for the hunting missions with hounds.  Fun little fact for everyone, Chantilly is actually the home of Chantilly Cream (a vanilla whipped cream)–which we were able to sample with our dessert at lunch… it was delicious! 🙂  Here are some pictures from Chantilly.

Click below to see more Chantilly photos

After a nap on the hour long bus ride, we arrived in Pierrefonds.  Despite the fact that it was somewhat far away from the main part of Paris, I would highly suggest visiting this quaint town to anyone who visits France in the future.  Unlike many of the Parisians I have encountered, the people of Pierrefonds were incredibly laid back and friendly–they even smile at you!

(Side note: I have a really hard time not smiling at people here because it is so engrained in me from growing up in the U.S.–my eyes are frequently focused on shoes so I don’t make eye contact and subsequently smile)

Sorry for the tangent…. anywhoo, Pierrefonds was simply amazing.  We had a delicious lunch and then strolled a bit around the town and even got to see the commotion created by a local wedding. The castle provided a nice respite from the extreme heat that had taken over.  Enjoy my pictures from Pierrefonds!

Click below to see more Pierrefonds photos

I promise this post is almost done….

Last night was the improv show by Olivier Giraud, and the show’s title is, “How to Become a Parisian in One Hour.”  I would highly suggest seeing this show if anyone reading this is coming to Paris.  A Parisian born comedian, Giraud lived for a time in the United States, and has put together a great show that pokes fun at Parisians as well as Americans and what happens when our cultures collide.  Unfortunately I have no photos to share with you, as cameras were not allowed in the theater, but my final experience to share with you has a video–even cooler, right?!

After returning home from the show, while I was working on homework with my roommates, we started to see some really amazing lightening. Then the rain started. And then the thunder started.  Let me tell you, it was quite the experience! I don’t think I have ever seen rain come down in such heavy sheets in my entire life.  The flat roofs of some neighboring buildings were flooded almost instantly, and a man driving a moped down the street quickly realized that battery powered vehicles that are exposed to rain stop working almost instantly. The thunder was extremely loud and at one point all four of us girls jumped into a huddle together.  Thankfully we did not lose power, or experience any real flooding (some rain came in thru the kitchen windows). Here is the video of the lightening before the rain and thunder started–it was crazier after this, but my camera died

Click the link to see the lightening show

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLrviPxIrDI

Well everyone, I’m sure that blog post will hold you all over for a while (I know my fingers need a rest). I hope everyone following my blog is enjoying my posts and let me know if you have any recommendations of places to see/go/eat at or just give me some love in the comment section

~Megs

June 6, 2011. Tags: , , , . Paris. 4 comments.

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