Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fogotten Blog?

This is not the case my friends and family! On the contrary, I will get you all caught up on my adventure, when I have a computer to myself again. Here is my sad story in short:

I guess this really all started about the beginning of Jr. year of college when I really began to notice that my computer's battery really wasn't battery-ing anymore, this was really to be expected since it is 2+ years old now, it was about time. But no problem really, I had a power cord, and it worked, I was good to go!

Or so I thought. Right before spring break my computer cord had started to wear through close to the converter box, but as long as I wrapped the cord a couple times and angled it right, it'd still get power to my computer. I crossed my fingers and hoped that this maneuvering would get me through France so that I could get home and order another one without huge shipping costs.

This didn't quite work as when I got home from Spring Break I plugged in my cord it sparked at me. Full out electricity pops that I could both see and hear! I took this as a sign that it was offically unsafe to use, and threw it away. Luckily a friend of mine has the same computer and thus the same cord, so I figured I could use her cord to charge my computer during the day, and pray my battery would last a couple hours at nights so I could work. This isn't perfect but would suffice while I waited to get a cord shipped here. She actually ended up having an old faulty cord she full time loaned me that I could use, as long as I pulled it just right! Sound familiar? Anyway, my dream of not paying to ship a cord here was re-kindled.

And shattered again about a month later, when her cord full out broke and my battery full out drained on me in the time span of 10 minutes. Blah...

What does this have to do with blog posts you ask? Well, I have most of the posts on my computer currently, which is dead. Had the wireless at IES been working I could have posted them while the other cord was still in one piece, but irony of ironies it came apart exactly 1 day after they fixed the wifi. Also, I hate typing on French keyboards, I'm amazed I've lasted this long, and I don't want to re-type them all, sorry!

To sum up, my computer has basically been a glorified paper weight for 4 weeks now, due to either lack of wifi, or lack of power source. It's too late to get my cord shipped here, but hopefully it's currently waiting at home for me, and I will post the details of all my adventures when I return home, in 1 week!

That's right, I return home at 6:30 pm mountain time next Tuesday! So until then, I love and miss you all, and will be on the same continent soon!


Friday, April 3, 2009

Plans, Trains and Automobiles!

So, I'm leaving on vacation this morning and wanted to say so, so that you know why I won't be writing for a couple weeks more. I know I haven't written about my last couple weeks either, but I promise I will write up a very exciting narrative while sitting, bored, on the many trains I will be taking this next couple weeks to get from here to there. I've bought a eurail pass for Germany, France and Italy, which theoretically allows me to travel on any train I want within those countries, MOST of which require a reservation anyway, something I wasn't aware of until I recieved my ticket, but it's still going be the easiest and cheepest way around Europe for two weeks, and I'm very excited to get started this afternoon! I will getting into Rome, via my only plane for the two weeks, tonight around midnight my time and then hanging out there for 5 days before going to Florence for 4 more, and then heading to the famous Wittenberg door, on my way to Berlin, which is the last stop on my way back to Nantes at the end of my wonderful two weeks of travel. Unless I decide to stop by Geneva to buy my Swiss Army knife replacement, in Switzerland! So now you know whereabouts, roughly, I'll be for the next two weeks, I should get back on the 17th and I'll have lots of posting to do by then, so be getting excited for that!

Until then, Peace!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Three Week Mélange

So, time has just flown right by me this past few weeks and I attribute this to several factors and they are as follows:

1) Vacation threw me for a loop and getting back and into the routine of things took me a few days.

2) Right after vacation, literally the day after, I had my first mid-term, to be followed by one more the next week, one more the week after that, and two mid-terms today, actually. So I've actually had to be studying and doing things like a normal student. It's nice that they're all so spread out so that I don't have to worry about 5 in one week, but also a little annoying, because as soon as I get done with one, there's another right around the corner. I'll be jumping up and down at 5 o'clock today when they're all over with! OK maybe not literally jumping up and down.

3) I got some weird 48 hour head cold/ sinus thing that knocked me out for a whole weekend basically. It was weird, I got done with school on Friday and my nose kind of went berserk, so I went to bed early, slept late on Saturday and was stuffy and groggy all day, same thing on Sunday, and then I woke up Monday and it was like a normal drippy nose, nothing awful and no sinus pressure, and by Tuesday I was pretty much normal again. But sleeping for 48 straight tends to make time seem like it's going right by you.

and lastly,

4) The fact that nothing really super exciting has happened to help me mark time. I haven't done anything to embarrass myself, been amazed by some cultural thing that I've never heard of before, or gone anywhere super duper interesting. Of course as soon as I say these things I realize that I've done thousands of things to embarrass myself, I do these things daily and just don't even really notice them anymore. I am amazed that the stupid strike is still going on. OH yeah! Remember the strike that the students were having against the school that was throwing off things here too, that we hoped would be gone by the end of break? Yeah, that's still going and shows no sign of letting up. The students are blockading the University, both literally and figuratively (since they actually go home at night. There's certain hours that they're there, it's like a job they go strike and then make it home for dinner, it's bizarre). Lots of kids had to switch out of university classes into classes at IES so they could still get credit for their semester, lucky for me, my Phonetics class just found another lab to use, so we're good to go on that front. However, it does interfere with my rock climbing class and gym usage that I was so excited about, grr. But anyway, as far as interesting places go I went with my host parents to their vacation house near the ocean this Sunday and it was quite lovely! The sun was shining and it was warm without being hot and we took a nice walk. I took a few photos and added them to the Nantes album, or will be adding them as soon as I post this, I should say. And this coming weekend I'm going with IES to Normandy for Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun I imagine and then I'll have something more interesting to share with you all.

Well that's about all I have to share for the moment,


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vacation Part 3: Return to England

At this point I must confess that I am quite tired of early morning planes, which require even earlier in the morning bus rides to airports. But complainer that I am I lived through it, and it is quite nice to actually have the day to see the place you’ve gone to and not have wasted a day just with traveling and such. Dublin airport was a whole other story however. First off when we got their, they have what in my opinion is the most confusing and stupid check in system ever. I won’t even try to explain it to you because it’s that dumb. Secondly the lady at the check in counter asked to see my carry on baggage, at this point I have a plastic bag in my hands and my backpack on my back, so I just turned around and pointed to my backpack. Then she says and I quote, “You’re only allowed one carry on bag…” here she paused and when I didn’t say anything right away she goes, “…you have two.” The same way you would to a toddler. I wasn’t pleased with the tone of her voice, it wasn’t nice. So I just quipped back that the plastic bag would fit into the backpack. Which for those of you who weren’t there, was obviously a lie. Then she goes on about the one bag restriction, which is understandable, but stupid since the plastic bag was quite small, and how if at the gate I still had two bags they’d stop me and make me pay 30 extra euros, which is a lie on her part. So basically the situation was two apparently tired people lying to each other in the check in line. I’m not proud of myself, but she was dumb and I wasn’t in the mood. Besides if necessary I could have taken out a shirt or two from my bag, layered up and then fit the plastic bag in the backpack. So then we wander around looking for the random and slightly hidden entrance into the security check line, another genius Dublin airport arrangement that was obviously designed by the 5 year old daughter of the manager, or whatever airports call their head person. So we go through security, and low and behold on the last plane we’ll be taking my Swiss Army knife gets found and taken. I played innocent and forgetful and didn’t put up a fight, because of course it’s illegal and there’s no arguing with that. I was slightly disappointed that my knife got taken, but also oddly relieved that at least one of the three airports we went through caught it. So we made it to the airport and grabbed a bus to London, completely uncertain as to how our day would unfold. In the search for internet so that we could figure it out for sure, we stumbled across a place that offered it to us free, as long as we took a survey first, which took me about a grand total of 1 minute since I’ve worked in market research in the past year. So we found Carly’s number and then figured out that if we did go to Cambridge that night we could get back in time for our bus to Paris on Sunday morning. After that our moods were lifted quite a bit and we started our routine of just wandering toward whatever sounded cool or looked cool at the moment. So we wandered into the Westminster Cathedral and towards a large structure with lots of colored dots on it and then along a wall of pinwheels, then towards Buckingham Palace, then down the mall and toward Big Ben and Parliament and Westminster Abbey. This whole ADD traveler thing worked really well in London, there’s just lots of really random stuff everywhere! The only problem was that we weren’t always exactly certain of what we were looking at. In fact when we came up on Big Ben up close we weren’t actually sure it was Big Ben for about two seconds, I guess I never realized it’s actually attached to the Parliament Building. We sat down on the big monument/ fountain across from Buckingham Palace just a bit since our backs were revolting from the weight of our backpacks and while we sat we notice that one of the gates was open and there was a crowd around it, so we watched from afar and after a while a car drove by. Lindsey turned to the British lady next to her and found out that apparently it was a ‘senior royal’ since the car had flags on it. So we saw a senior royal, don’t know which leave the castle, I don’t know what for, maybe they needed groceries. After that we wandered some more and saw more parts of London, got Dad his pin from Hard Rock, which makes #3, there was one from Dublin too that I didn’t mention I don’t think. While I was taking the picture of the tea quote on a wall I dropped my camera!! I was worried, but it seemed to work just fine when I took the picture so I stopped worrying, until I tried to take a picture of an arch that was far away and it went all weird. So basically I think I knocked one of my lenses out of place, which sucks because I’m going to Rome for my next break. I might break down soon and see if I can get it fixed here in France, because sending it to Nikon is o-u-t. I’d rather have it unaligned and with me on vacation than not have it at all. After that incident we kept walking around and ended up just a bit lost. GREAT! Not too lost though, we found a B&B and asked the nice lady at the front desk who gave us the best news ever, the bus station was just a couple blocks away! So that lady is my new hero. After that we were pretty beat so we found food and then found the bus station and waited just a bit until our coach came. The ride up to Cambridge was pretty good, I slept through most of it. When we got there I groggily got up and off and collected my backpack from the sidewalk where the driver had tossed it before he hopped in and drove off in a rush. It wasn’t until about five minutes later that I realized I’d left my plastic bag with several of my acquired souvenirs in it on the bus, as well and my very soft red scarf. Since there was nothing that could be done right then, we went and met my friends, who I really enjoyed seeing! It had be quite a while, except for the three I saw right when I got here, but still I’m used to seeing them all much more frequently. So it was nice to meet up and hang out for a while. We chilled in their hall for a bit and then dozed off to sleeping.

Saturday we went with them to their cafeteria type place and ate a proper English breakfast which was the same as the breakfast in the hostel but also with oily mushrooms, which was odd. We then proceeded to hang out for a while longer before heading into the city so that we could see Cambridge. It was a fun day and pretty chill, which was nice. After a week of traveling I was pretty tired and glad to be able to relax just a bit and hang out. After walking around the city and seeing all the cool stuff there we went back to their dorm and prepared to stay up until 3 am so that we could catch our bus back to London so that we could catch our bus to Paris. However, I wasn’t feeling very well at all and had to get some sleep and was physically not able to wake up at 3 am and walk with my heavy bag into Cambridge, much less keep it together on a bus all day long, so I had to bite the bullet and pay for a train later in the day and then a train to Paris so that I could still catch my train to Nantes the next day. I’m glad this hit me when I had my friends around to help me out with getting new things arranged and when I could just crash in Carly’s bed and fall asleep. So Saturday night just kind of bled into Sunday morning and before I knew it I was waiting for a train.

Sunday morning I got the train station with a bit of help and got on my way without too much trouble, even though I still wasn’t feeling great I was a bit better. The train ride was definitely smoother than the bus would have been which was nice. I got to London and then into Paris, I got to ride in the chunnel which makes your ears pop tons and tons. It was weird and kind of annoying. In Paris I found other fellow IES travelers waiting in the station for their train so I waited with them and watched some movies on my iPod. Then, I got on a train headed back to Nantes and the rest is really not interesting so I won’t bore you with it. I made it back safe and sound and my host parents were on a trip of their own by the time I got back, so I just ate some dinner solo and went to sleep to fully shake off whatever I’d got that made feel so awful.

This concludes my first official vacation and my adventures had during it. In between this week of break and the next one in April there’s a month of classes to attend and learn during. Complete with mid-terms and a couple big assignments to be done, so I’ll be busy with all this for a while. On top of this I have to plan my next vacation during April! I’ll be on vacation on my birthday, so that’s really nice, I’ll be able to relax a bit and not worry about school at all. Tomorrow I should have a post that summarizes the two weeks after vacation that really aren’t that exciting, so they just get squished into one post. And then I’m officially caught up with the blogging thing. In case you haven’t noticed I did post pictures of my vacation so you can go look if you’d like to. I’ve gotten some comments about seeing more of me in these pictures, and in response I’d like to say, suck it up. I’m not in Europe to take pictures of myself I’m in Europe to take pictures of Europe. There a few of me in them, take what you can get. So there. Well, looks like I’m done for today.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Vacation, Part 2: The General Area of Dublin

The second section of our trip began with our waking up at 3:45 in the morning so that we could take a cab to a bus station, so we could take the bus to the airport, so we could take our airplane to Ireland and then another bus into Dublin. Needless to say we were a little sleepy upon arrival. Oh and by the way, again my SA knife wasn't caught at security check, I was slightly relieved, but at the same time a little worried about airport security. But moving on, on the way to the airport, we ate some rolls with the rest of the colis poured in the middle of them for breakfast, since I couldn’t take that much liquid through the airport. It was a bit like the healthy version of jelly donut, and surprisingly decent as far as breakfast food goes. Once in the actual city we got our euros back out, which was nice since the pound is a bit high right now and then we found tourist information. After grabbing a few maps and free guide pamphlets we went looking for one of the hostels on our list and found one pretty quick. It was actually really nice and I think my view of hostels is a bit skewed now. It was clean, not too loud, had wireless I could use, and they fed us real breakfasts with lots of food. It was fun. After all our things were situated we went out into the city wandering to find whatever we could find. It was around lunch time so our main goal was to find something worth eating. That however, didn’t go well and we ended up just wandering in a couple circles before deciding to just catch the bus that would take us to the Botanical Gardens. We hoped that we’d see something worth eating on the way there. I’d also like to mention that the Dublin and England buses are a little hard to navigate if you don’t already know where you’re going. There’s no list of stops on their route for you to take and no display or announcements on the bus itself to tell you where you are. Thus you kind of have to use a little bit of common sense, observation skills and luck to get wherever you need to go. After a little bit on the bus we saw the entry sign for the gardens and had to press the stop button quick and hop off. Then, because I made the guess as to which way to go, we went the wrong direction. By the time we figured out that we weren’t going to get into the park by walking the direction we were going, we thought maybe we had gone far enough that it would be wrapping around into a circle so we kept going that way. This was the wrong choice seeing as roads in Europe rarely make since and this one must have been spiraling out, so no circle was going to be made, regardless of how far we kept going. Thus we turned around and walked the whole way back to find out that the entry was only a few yards in the other direction. We were quite tired and hungry by the time we made it inside, and here we ran into some luck with a cafeteria type place inside the gardens where we could eat. So eat we did, then we went to see the actual gardens we’d worked so hard to find. And, while the gardens were probably very similar to one that could be found in the States they were still really fun to see. Lindsey and I both took lots and lots of photos of all the flowers, they had an orchid house, a tropical house, a house with lots of different aloe plants, which I thought were cool, and loads of other things. By the time we were done looking through the green houses the park was about to close, so we decided there wasn’t time to explore the grounds and see the outside part of the park. This was a little sad, but really we wanted to get back into the city and see more of things that we can’t find normally in the states. So we wandered around the city a little bit more and found a tea house we decided to try and see if it held a candle to Lee Rosy’s. In fact it did not. It was a bit strange of a place. Someplace that could have been cool, but was kind of trying to hard. Plus some of the decorating was done very badly with cheep materials and all I could think of was that I could have done a better job of nailing the fake plyboard like bamboo imitation stuff to the walls and sanding down the self which was all rough. Plus, in the room we were in, the furniture was very off, one couch was all one color with matching pillows and a matching armchair, but the other couch very well could have just been bare cushions that had those African influenced died fabric things put over them as covers. Didn’t work well at all. But it did have potential. Lindsey and I decided that given a little bit of funds and a few weeks, we could have made it look much, much better. Plus the tea wasn’t as good, it was more expensive, and there was less of it. So basically I’m ruined for other tea shops for the rest of my life. Since we were so beat, we found some Chinese ‘Take Away’ as they call it there and went back to the hostel to chill and eat and then sleep a little. Hey, before you judge, remember we woke up at 3:45 that morning, we did pretty good under the circumstances I think, so back off!

Any who, on Wednesday we slept in later and ate our first full free breakfast, which we found out later was traditional English style, meaning it was an egg over hard, sausages, English bacon, which is like really fatty warmed up ham slices, baked beans and some hash browns. We also got to help ourselves to toast, cereal, milk, tea and coffee as we saw fit. Needless to say we ate our fill so as to provide a little leniency with the necessity for lunch at a certain time. This day we had decided to go see a little bit of the Irish coast line north of the city and work our way south in the same manner as recommended by a site that we’d found on the internet for hikers. So we had a bit of difficulty finding the bus we needed since it must be only one of about five out of fifty that doesn’t stop on the main road of the city, and the direction we needed was even further away than the stop for the opposite direction. Grrr. But we found it and made it to Howth, a peninsula just north of Dublin that we planned to walk around. And we did. Along the way we found a few pebble filled beaches, a long stretch of stone wall, several cliffs, and a couple light houses. It was quite fun to get out of a city for a while and see the Irish countryside. Plus it was fun to do some hiking. I just added a couple ‘pictures’ to the Dublin album which show a google map of where we were and the path we hiked. It was a good 4 miles at least. The guide we’d found recommended some other hiking south of the city as well, but by the time we made it back to the city we still needed to find our late lunch so we did, then went back to the hostel to drop off the extra stuff we’d gotten for snacks later during traveling and then decided to just rest so that we could go out later, since we thought it was a bit late and getting a little too dark to make another hike worth it. So we rested a little until later in the afternoon and then went to go find some dinner and a small pub to relax in a while. When we got back to the hostel later that evening, we got a bit of a surprise when some of the other IES students we knew showed up. It was quite the coincidence that of all the hostels in Dublin we happened to end up in the same one at the same time, and in the same room to boot. So we swapped travel stories up to that point and chatted for a while and compared plans for the next day before heading off to sleep.

For our third day in Dublin we decided to actually stay in the city and see some of the more touristy, normal things that you’re supposed to see when you go there. One of our fellow IES friends from the other group wanted to go see the old Jameson Whiskey Distillery, so we decided to join her. Thus we were up relatively early to grab breakfast and get there in time for the first tour of the day. After seeing the old distillery, which no longer makes the Jameson Whiskey (that distillery is in Middleton near Cork, Ireland) and learning a bit about how the three different main types of whiskey are made (American, Scotch, and Irish) we all got to participate in a taste test. Normally they ask for eight volunteers, but seeing as we were the first group of the day and there were only nine of us, they let us all participate. They gave us all samples of the three different main types, and let us see for ourselves the differences. Then they gave us a complementary glass of Jameson. So, we started off our day properly and now know a bit more about whiskey than any of us had before. After this we took to the streets to find some of the more historic buildings in Dublin, such as the castle and Trinity College. The castle was a bit of a let down seeing as it’s surrounded by parking lot, but Trinity was really pretty, I just feel bad for the students who have to deal with dumb tourists wandering around their school all the time. Eventually we made it back to the hostel to rest a bit before dinner. For which we found a cool little restaurant which offered quote, “Traditional Irish Cuisine” which didn’t really seem that different from normal cuisine, but was very good, I especially liked the brown bread they served, it was awesome! Which brings me to a small side note, I think if it were possible to be addicted to bread, I would be. In fact when taking my case into consideration I think addiction to bread is not only possible but a serious affliction for which some sort of support group might be required. Living in France has not helped this addiction, rather it’s equivalent to placing a coke addict in a home stay with a drug family in Columbia. But this is really neither here nor there; I’m just making an observation. After dinner we went out to find a pint of Guinness, because after all we were in Dublin and I think it would have been sacrilegious to go there and not order Guinness in an authentic Irish pub. Of which we found one which was playing live music and was quite fun. And thus our day started with authentic Irish alcohol and ended with it as we went back relatively early so that we could manage to wake up in time to make it to the airport to catch our 7:30 plane to London.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Vacation Part 1: The Middle of England

On the way to the airport I realized that I’d left my Swiss Army knife on my keychain, where it normally lives and was a little worried about this because I didn’t want it confiscated at the airport. We didn’t have time to turn around and go back however, so I just took it off the key ring and placed it in the front pouch of my back pack thinking that if they found it I could just say I forgot it was there and at least avoid looking like I was blatantly disregarding the rules. So we get to the airport and check in, no problems. I even make it through security, even though I got stopped. However, not for my tiny knife, which they seem to have missed, but for my deodorant, which I forgot to take out of my bag along with all my other toiletries. Ooops! That really was an accident and I found this highly funny, the French are quite amusing. I find it ironic that this is the country where I get stopped for a hygiene product and not a possible weapon. Anyway we made it to the plane and got through customs in the East Midlands Airport, which was interesting seeing as the English actually ask you questions about why you’re entering their country. Something which the French just couldn’t care less about. It was really really amusing explaining couch surfing to the lady at customs and my friends in Cambridge thought I was quite stupid for mentioning it in the first place. She thought we were crazy I’m sure, but it all worked out and she let us into the country after close examination of our other plane ticket receipts which indicated we did plan on leaving again. We caught a bus to Derby where we wandered just a little bit and then met our very nice hosts who made us dinner that night, which was quite delicious green curry and tofu (they are vegetarians, just like my friend Lindsey who I was traveling with). After that we talked a little while with them, they’re a cool couple who actually just recently moved into their house, and who are also expecting a baby! It was nice to talk with them, but it’s amazing how quickly traveling can suck away your energy! It’s quite awful, so after chatting for a little bit we went promptly to sleep.

Anyway, the next day, Saturday just for the record, we were all rested and ready to explore, so after some breakfast our hosts took us to an official English market, which was cool to see, they’ve got lots of really random stuff all together in one place. And I mean very random stuff. We bought some fixings to make pain perdu for our hosts like we’d promised them and then went back to their house to store it all. After that we drove up to Chatsworth Mansion, the location for Mr. Darcy’s house in the newest Pride and Prejudice movie. Unfortunately we couldn’t go up to the house because it’s closed during the off season, but we got to see it at least and then go to the market near the house, which had loads and loads of really awesome sounding food. We each ended up getting something and everything we tried was as awesome as it sounded. We got a shortbread cake with rum soaked raisins and apricots inside. We had it for dessert that night after dinner, OHHH so yummy! After the market we went farther into the country to find some cool underground tunnels/caves that we wanted to see. They were neat, but quite small, the tunnels were filled with water, so we took a boat through them to the cavern and then back. You can see pictures of this in the Derby album if you so feel inclined. After that we drove through the peak district some more. It would have been fun to walk a little but our host who was pregnant wasn’t feeling up to a long hike, so we drove just a little ways and then went back to their house. We ate some dinner, complete with awesome dessert already mentioned, and then went out a little bit later with our hosts and some of their friends. The British are funny when the drink. And we got to see a bunch of women show up looking crazily ridiculous since they were on a hen night (bachelorette party in American). We also took a ride in a real live British cab, which look funny and large, but are handicap compatible, so they’re just more progressive than we are in the states I suppose. After that we returned to their house and prepared to sleep after our long day out and about.

On Sunday, we woke up and got ready to go, then cooked the some breakfast, using some colis (pronounced cool-ee), which is basically ever so slightly sweetened pureed fruit, instead of syrup that we’d found at the market the day before. So far the two times I’ve cooked pain perdu in Europe it hasn’t even been sort of close to what I usually make in the states, but it still turns out well. I think anyway, and I haven’t had any complaints. Around 11 we hopped a bus to Nottingham and met our next host, then went to explore our new locale. First we wandered the town a little bit and then went to find the oldest pub in England our host had told us about quickly. It’s carved into the cliff that it sits next to, which we thought was cool. And it was cool to see, but we didn’t go in since it was a bit early for that. Turns out it’s pretty close to the castle, so we went to see it and it was a bit disappointing to be honest. You see, Nottingham castle has been blown up at least twice in its history, once due to war and once due to angry citizens revolting. So, instead of rebuilding a close replica of the actual castle, they built a museum house in its place. On top of that, the museum barely has anything to do with Nottingham, which we found odd. It has lots of random exhibits which range from art works to a display about Greek pottery, a room with random objects that has to do with their history and uses, and other really random rooms which don’t all tie together in any way shape or form. Don’t get me wrong it was interesting, just not what we expected. Even the part that was about Nottingham was weird and not quite expected. After that we wandered more and went to find a place for dinner. Find a place we did, it was an Indian restaurant which had won some local awards, but was still affordable. Hurrah! It was quite delicious. We also found an excellent little tea shop, called Lee Rosy’s Tea Shop. Logical name I think. Anyway, we instantly fell in love with this place. It’s quite the epitome of English tea shops. And not too expensive, a pot of tea which is four cups of tea (normal sized cups too) was only 2 pounds! So we split a pot of the best pomegranate green tea I’ve had in my life. Then we went wandering a little bit more, and then went to the town center to meet our host. While waiting for him however, some Nigerian guys that were there to visit asked me to take their picture. I complied with their request but before we knew it they were asking Lindsey to come stand with them in the shot. She hesitated and said they should have one of just them so they agreed, but then after that made her go join them. At this point our host, a guy in his 40s, shows up and comes over to us and offers to take the picture so I can join them too. When the guys from Nigeria ask who he is, he says he’s our dad and starts giving the guys a hard time for having approached us. All in good fun of course and they figured out pretty quick that he wasn’t telling the truth. Anyway pictures got taken, and then the guys are talking to us and once they find out we’re American immediately go, “But you’re not fat enough.” That’s right. To which Lindsey and I just kind of went, “Thanks… I guess.” Anyway then we started going our separate ways and they said something about seeing us again they were sure. What is it with Nigerians and immediate friendship? Remember the guy on the bus to Paris? Yeah, so apparently it is just a cultural thing, or at least with all the ones that travel. These guys at least said something about how unlikely that was. I still feel bad about not being able to contact the guy from the bus. He was nice. Anyway, we went for a drink with our host and then went back to his house to sleep for the night. With only one small problem, he doesn’t heat his house, meaning we had about 5 blankets each and were still cold, I’m used to this and quite like sleeping in the cold, however Lindsey is from Texas and didn’t manage quite as well as me. I felt bad for her.

The Monday was slightly less adventuresome. We took our first showers since we’d set out and were quite happy about that, but they were fast, seeing as it was so cold in the house, at least there was a water heater. We ate some food and then wandered around Nottingham some more. We both bought three scarves for 6 pounds total from a street vendor. Which I’m very content about. They’re nice scarves too. So that was really fun. Then we went to find the Alley café which our hosts in Nottingham had told us to find. It’s a vegetarian café with good food, so we walked up the street where it was, didn’t see it, back down the street, didn’t see it, tried again, nothing, then as we were giving up and going to find something else, Lindsey saw the sign that pointed back into the Alley where it was. We were really excited that we found it so that’s where we had our lunch. Complete with delicious gluten free brownie and vanilla ice cream. Then we went to explore the underground tunnels our host had told us about. During this it occurred to me that I’ve now seen the underground of three of the cities I’ve been to, and they’ve been the only locations I’ve paid to get into. Just an observation, but it makes me wonder about my priorities… Anyway after the caves we went back to Lee Rosy’s Tea and ordered another pot, but this time we tried something new, I don’t remember the name because it was really odd. Then we promptly ordered another pot, Lindsey bought three bags of tea, and I bought one too. Then our host came to meet us, and ordered another pot of tea. It was marvelous. Then we decided to find some fish and chips since we were in England after all. We got these huge fish and lots of chips and at the insistence of our host also got some mushy peas because apparently that’s just required, but not mentioned in the name because fish, chips and mushy peas is much less catchy and a bit long. While they were fixing us the food we had a nice chat with all the workers at the place we’d gone to and then, once the food was done and wrapped up, we went back to his house to eat. It was better than I expected it to be, but it won’t become my new favorite food anytime soon. I got so full I couldn’t even finish my fish, and our host had a really happy cat who got to polish the rest off later. After that it was pretty late and we were pretty cold, so we promptly ran upstairs where were staying in his attic like room and went to sleep to avoid the chilliness. Plus we also had a really early morning so we could make it to the airport in time for our flight into part two of our vacation.

That's where I have to leave it for now, the last two parts of the vacation story will be here on monday, or else you can point your finger and call me a lazy bum.

But for now, Peace.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Pre-Vacation Week

I firstly would like to apologize that it’s taken me a month to get back to this. Totally my fault, but I’m going to blame it on the vacation anyway. It’s because of that, that I’ve just recently become a disorganized procrastinator and it has nothing to do a chronic habitude of mine.

I secondly would like to apologize that this particular post has very little to do with my actual vacation. But just you wait, I’m going to finish writing those posts and then you will all be stunned, shocked and amazed at how brilliant they are. Then I will promptly get my posting caught up with these past two weeks after the break. Just in time to go on another vacation and get behind again. Ain't life grand?

So that week was a pretty short one as far as being in Nantes and taking classes goes. My grammar class was canceled because the professor was on vacation a week early and the French professors are on strike, not ours of course, but at the university the classes were all canceled and weird, so that effected us to. I really have no idea what the strike was about, it’s got to do with specialization of schooling so the teachers and students are striking. The concept of students striking against school seems weird to me as an American, because I don’t think that would work in any of our universities. If you don’t like it here, leave; this seems to be more along the lines of how Americans would respond to such an event. Maybe if it was the entire student body though, they might listen more intently. I don’t know though, still, I think it’s strange. Yet another cultural divide between our two cultures. So classes went along, I had to focus on making myself stay focused in class, I think I was getting a little burnt out on French and tired, and anticipating the break to come. And come it did regardless of whether Lindsey and I were ready. We still hadn’t finalized any but our Nottingham places for staying and they didn’t get finalized until Friday morning right before we left. We got a place to couch surf in the two England towns and said that if neither of the Ireland hosts we’d asked responded positively before we arrived, we’d just go to a hostel, of which we found a few acceptable ones before we left. So with that in mind we hopped on the tram and then the bus that would take us to the airport and away to vacation and English speaking countries! Which by the way we were both very very excited about.