Tuesday, December 25

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone! I am having a good time doing this holiday away from home thing English style! Yesterday, Christmas eve, I took the kids ice skating at the tower of London which was really cool. Things have been crazy and although I have been excited for Christmas, I am also excited for all the stress and hype to be over! I also have a little som'n som'n for all of you. Remember waaaay back when I promised an amazing music video produced by yours truely starring the munchkins? WELL. It is ready. Yep, just in time for Christmas! It was a gift from the kids and me to Sarah and Terry. Now it's not really that "Christmas-y" cause originally it was just us messing around to a song that few people have heard. But it turned into a Christmas gift, and the both loved it! There are a few things you can look out for in this video. One being the park, which is by the house that provides stunning views of the area and is just so beautiful. Secondly there is the Horse-Dog that attacks Callum while he is trying to do a football scene, thirdly the monkey bars Gemma broke her wrist on, and last there is some footage of us in yesterday in London near the end. Hope you like it-



Saturday, December 22

Paris Continued

Finally in a timely fashion! Here is that video I promised last blog. It is a compilation of all the video I took along with (most) all of my pictures. I also had to throw a song in--couldn't resist. It's not even a christmas song, but it is one of my favorites (If you have seen Enchanted you know what I mean!).


I am also uploading some more pictures of Marie Antoinette's gardens, as requested by my Dad. It was definitely a highlight of my trip!

Wednesday, December 19

Se La Vie!

Whew! So in my last blog post...2 weeks ago... I think I said something about posting the next day, yada yada yada. Everyone who believed that when they read it raise your hand. HAH. Your hand didn't go up. It's ok, I have been a little bit of a blog-slacker lately- and it's time to catch up and share some of what I have been up to! First, the event that overshadows all other events: Paris. It's true, I couldn't find anyone to go with me, so I went to the city of lights by myself! And you know what? I wouldn't have had it any other way (ok I would have loved for a family member or English hottie to accompany me, but you know what I am saying). Lets start from the very beginning, each day has a title to help me keep them straight!

Friday- Oh Boy!
I arrived in Paris about...2:30 in the afternoon, and headed up to the 18th district of Paris where I booked my stay in my very first Hostel. Supposedly it was easy to find, but as soon as I stepped out of the Metro I was twisted and couldn't figure out where in the crud I was. Fortunately, a nice (cute) chap saw the look on my face (probably a mixture of 'I-am-gonna-cry' and 'I just ate 3 tins of baked beans') as I looked down at the map, and then up squinting at the street corners looking for posted signs. He stopped and asked if I needed help (in english, cause obviously I was foreign) and offered me assistance. Then, he just kept talking. Chat Chat Chat... we stood there and talked for a good 15-20 minutes with breif exclamations every 5 of "I just Love Americans!" Then he asked me out for a drink and offered to show me around the city. He gave me his business card and told me to call him once I got my things dropped off at my Hostel...uh huh. Right. Even though it probably would have been fine, and he was really nice (and cute) I could here this little jabbering in the back of my head that sounded and awful lot like my father going into detail of all the bad things that could happen. Anyways, I got a souvenir business card out of it. After that fun little encounter, I dropped my stuff on and headed over to the Eiffel Tower. Yes, I did go to this famous monument last time I was there with my parents, but we only went to the second level...and I had to go to the top! So, to the top I went, and it was great! The views were lovely, and even though I had icicles growing out of my nose after 3 minutes of standing at the top, it was worth it!

After going up the Eiffel Tower, I really wanted to see it light up and sparkle like it does on the top of the hour, every hour. According to Rick Steves, its good to walk to the end of the Champs De Mars to see the Tower. so as I was walking the reasonably well crowded walkway to the end of the road I was stopped by another guy, who-to make a long story short- ended up asking me out for a drink and offered to show me the city. I made up a pretty darn good story about meeting up with the people I was here with blah blah blah so I couldn't do anything. But this one wasn't taking no for an answer, he made me promise to call him at 10:00am the next morning and wrote his phone number on my hand. I left him with a very convincing "see ya tomorrow" as he waved goodbye and flashed an insanely cheesy smile- like you would give a monster-child you just spent the night babysitting and you can't wait to get out of their sight, but you smile cause the little twerp's mother is standing there believing her child is flawless.

Once I walked the whole length of the Champs De Mars I decided I was terribly hungry, so I grabbed a crepe at the crepe stand there, and headed on my way when I was stopped by a guy selling souvenir Eiffel Towers- we talked for about 10 minutes and he ended up giving me a free Eiffel tower that lights up and everything. Then, for the third time in one night, he asked me out for a drink. I quickly explained how I was meeting my boyfriend for dinner because he just got off work and I didn't want to be late.... and off I went. After that -yes, there is more- I was walking along and this guy asked me if he could draw my picture. I said no. He said it was free, I said no. We argued for a minute or two and finally I gave in and said he could draw me here- and he had better make it snappy. So 15 minutes later he was finished, and the portrait he showed me was absolutely, positively, the most hideous thing I have ever seen in my entire life. It made me look like a cross between a Sloth and a Platypus. When I told him I thought it wasn't very good he said he didn't have much time to perfect it. And in my mind I was thinking that no amount of work on earth or heaven could fix the face of the girl in this drawing!!! But of course I didn't say that out loud.... so I said I had to go and He just happened to be headed in the same direction as I was. Anyways, I will cut this down cause I spent a little bit of time with this one- but I had a really nice time, and he even held my hand as we walked down the Champs Elysees-kind of awkward, kind of not. So before it got too late I said I had to go, and I headed back to my Hostel. It was a really fun day!

This is my room at the Hostel. I think I did pretty well for myself! If anybody needs any hostel recommendations in Paris, let me know!

Saturday- Versailles

Mozart played on the organ in that Chapel.

A change of plans landed me on a day tour to Versailles, which was really great. I was in a small group of about 9 people with a private tour guide who was really passionate about the history and really knew her stuff! I got a fantastic history lesson, and I learned a lot about French history. I even had a really posh lunch in "little Venice" on the Versailles garden grounds, don't ask me what it was thought. I learned that in foreign countries you don't question what the food is- you just eat it.

The place where we ate in little Venice

Marie Antoinette's Gardens recently opened up at Versailles

The Dome of Love in the Gardens

Once I returned from Versailles I walked from the Louvre Museum to the Arc De Triomphe which is a little bit over 2 miles, and it was completely jam packed with people. This walk included the Louvre, Place De La Concorde, Jardin De Tuilleries, Champs Elysees, and Arc De Triomphe.

I admired the views and weaved my way in and out of the crowd, and I also picked up some chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Someone should have warned me that you aren't supposed to just pop the entire flippin' nut in your mouth- it might have saved me some embarrassment. I figured it out after the first nut though. Once I reached the end of the Champs Elysees I went to the top of the Arc De Triomphe to get a really impressive view of the city.

Once finished here, I really wanted to see Notre Dame all lit up at night, so I took the Metro over there and walked around a bit, and really enjoyed myself.

Sunday- At Least I went to A Church....

I woke up early sunday morning to go up to the Sacre Coer and watch the sunrise over Paris... It was really beautiful!

Then, I went to the Rodin Museum, which far surpassed my expectations! I absolutely loved it, and I would dare say that it is my favorite museum that I have been to in Paris. Even better then the Orsay or the Louvre. I say that for this reason- it was small, it was focused and educational, and it was spectacular. I was able to see everything in an hour and a half and be perfectly content- not feeling overwhelmed or "museumed out", i thought it was just right!

After the Rodin Museum, I went to the St. Sulpice Chapel where- agian, according to my friend Rick Steves, they have world-renouned organists playing at 11:35 in the morning on sundays. Supposedly they even play 5 organs at once! I also heard there was a Christmas fair over there, something that I was dying to see since it is one of those things that only happens at Christmas...and seriously, when am I ever coming back to Paris for Christmas?! So I did get distracted outside the Church as the Christmas fair for a little while- it didn't help that I spotted a crepe maker, because it only reminded me that i had not eaten all morning! So, 2 nutella crepes later I went into the church and listened to the Organist play. I was also pleasantly suprised to find a robotic nativity (sounds weird, was kind of cool thought) which I took some video of for you all to see. I actually took a lot of videos for you guys, but I haven't quite grouped them together yet so I will get that done in the next couple days and then post them up!

Once I had my fill of the fair and music, I realized that I had never been inside Notre Dame Cathedral, I have seen the outside several times, but never inside! So I made my way to the Quazzie's old stomping grounds and took my brief tour of the inside. (excluding the top- I was too tired to even think about trekking up those towers!) Following that I walked around Place De Concorde once more along with Jardin De Tuilleries, which was beautiful and crowded on a Sunday.

Unfortunately, my trip ended all to quickly and I was at Gare Du Nord boarding my Eurostar train back to London. I was sad to leave, but excited to write about it in my blog!

Sunday, December 2

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.
Charles Dickens

It is the oddest thing. Ever since I have been here in England, I have had this uncontrollable urge to read. For those of you who knew me in my pre-European years know that I would rather staple my fingers to a car and be dragged 100 miles in parachute pants than flip through the pages of a book for more than 5 minutes. Well all that has changed my friends, I go to the library several times a week simply because I love books. It is becoming an addiction and obsession, and I just can't get enough!

This weekend was particularly fantastic in light of my new hobby. I went to Leed's castle, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful castles in the world, and I attended the Charles Dickens Christmas Festival. First of all, the weather for the day was supposed to be dreadful, hurricane winds of up to 70 mph and constant rain--and I swear after that stinkin' Wales trip if another BUNAC "adventure" was wet windy and cold, I was not going. Luckily, the storm moved to Sunday and Saturday was absolutely beautiful.

First stop: Leeds Castle. It was amazing, and it could have been straight out of a fairy tale.

The grounds were one of the main reasons it was so incredible, just look at the Nessie imitation...You see, this saves me a trip to Loch Ness.

The grounds are well known for their fowl, especially a pair of albino peacocks (which I saw but didn't photograph...sorry folks) and black swans.

The whole structure of the castle was impressive, and like I said, the weather cooperated so I could get some nice pictures.

This is a very happy me outside the main portion of the castle

This is just one corner of the library inside Leeds, the books were all antique, old, and I was drooling just looking at them. I probably could have stayed in there forever. One day, when I make my fortune, I will have an old fashioned library like this one--and maybe I will let you tour it!

Also on the castle grounds we have a scientifically engineered maze, which--no matter how simple it may seem--was incredibly difficult and I was lost for longer than I would like to admit. It was all worth it though, because below the maze (the exit) was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Everything was intricately lined and decorated in sea shells, its hard to describe, so check out the pics and realize that everything you see is in a different color shell!

This one is a phoenix, in case you can't tell-it is a bit hard to see.

This was also on the castle grounds, I just want to meet the person who thought this was a good idea... no really, I do.

Now on to the Dickens Festival, which was defiantly a highlight! I have never been a part of anything like it before (I think I find myself saying that a lot these days) so it was an experience to remember! I took little bits of video to try and capture the feeling of what was going on- it doesn't quite do it justice- but it's not bad!

I guess it only fake snows here... but It's a nice effect!

There were so many people there, it was crazy!

So that pretty much covers my weekend, excluding only but a few things that I will write about later this week! In fact, I have every intention of writing tomorrow because my friend Marie, who has two amazing blogs, tagged me today--and since it is my first time being tagged by another blogger--I don't want to blow it by not following through on my tag. So look forward to that! And since you are looking, check out her blog which gets hits from all over the world, and was also featured in the Ensign. She is an amazing cook who has recipes that will make your tummy tingle! She also takes all her own pictures of the food she prepares, so this is the real deal guys, check it out--Marie's Food Blog, and Marie's other equally-as-good food blog. You won't be disappointed!