Tuesday, October 26, 2010

J'adore Paris

The Louvre
Galeries Lafayette

The Park we walked for miles

Marie Antoinette Gardens and Palace

Pablo Picasso Apartments



Business area where they lived

I can see myself living in Paris oneday. The city was absolutely gorgeous. Every moment of my time there I was in awe. You know those feelings where you just feel so happy there is nothing on your mind but what is around you, well that's how I felt. I would just be looking around seeing the Eiffel Tower and the beautiful French buildings and be like this is "My City" Paris is definately my favorite city, and my favorite place in the world. I sound childish saying this, but it is so true. Before I left I knew that it was the city of my dreams, and when I faced it, it felt perfect.

Well, our journey to Paris was quite an adventure. We ended up traveling 19 hours. Having 3 ferry rides and realizing that the entire border control of both France and England knew who we were. It was just three of us. Kaitlyn, Darette and Me. I will say that within all of this transporting around the majority of the people were very nice to us. They cared about us and wanted to keep us safe. I guess it was because we were 3 young American girls who were scarred and lost. I will write another blog about our story later.

When we finally arrived in Paris Darette's cousin Chin picked us up. It was nice having someone transport us by car. Having a local tour you around is one of the best ways to see a city and I was definately happy to see Paris in this way. Chin took us to his apartments. They were so cool. The name of the apartments were Pablo Pissaco. Their design was so unique. Each building was about 18 stories high and different colors from purple, green, blue, and yellow. The windows were all different shapes. squares, circles, ovals, and random shapes. They were located in the middle of the business district of Paris so all of the surrounding buildings were glass and classy. It was really cool. After we got relaxed we walked to the subway station and rode to see the Effiel Tower. The subway system here was not confusing at all. The only thing that was, was the language barrier, but I found myself starting to understand a lot of french. The Effiel Tower was just how movies pictured it. There is a song that I love called I want to do it all, and some of the lyrics say "see Paris in fall" that has been on my bucket list, and definately being here seeing the fall trees around the tower made me check that off my list. The park beside the tower is nice we saw a wedding as we walked by. We did some shopping around that area of the city, and then us 3 made our way back to the apartment without getting lost. Later that night Chin drove us around Paris at night. It was amazing too!! He drove us everywhere and we saw every little thing that Paris is famous for. Driving around at night was the best part though. Paris is such a lively city and really comes to life at night. Chin would stop the car on the side of the road and we all would jump out and take pictures and look around. We saw Notre Dame, the Opera, Louvre,walked along the Seine river, and so much more. From each direction we saw the Effiel Tower we snapped a picture. The roads in Paris are different. On many of the round abouts there are no lines, so people just drive crazy. In America if we had roads like this there would probably be sooo many deadly wrecks, but here people would just respect people and go with the flow. It really wasn't that big of a hassel. Most of the roads we drove on were rocks. They were really pretty. The last stop we made that night was the Effiel Tower. We went to 3 different locations where we could see it perfectly. It was about midnight when we saw the tower, and at that minute it started lighting up! It was amazing. I felt like I was in a movie again, and everything was planned to arrive at the tower at midnight right when it lit up. I will add the video of the tower lighting up.

The next day we had a full day at the Louvre and Galleries Layfattte, the huge desinger mall!!

The Louvre was the biggest muesum I have ever seen! You could take one full day in a 3rd of it. We saw the Mona Lisa, and there was a room where statues of all of the Gods. It was really pretty. There were huge paintings and also Roman tomb stones, and the great sphinx. While I was walking around I realized that I was in a place that some of the most famous art in the world was located. I had studied this place for years, and I was finally stepping foot through doors. I remember when I was younger probably in the 3rd grade or so and I said when I am in my 20's I will see the Mona Lisa, and that day has come. This reminds me that anything really is possible, and I want to continue experiencing all that life offers to me. I want to live a life with the richest experiences that I can face. We left the louvre and somehow we figured out how to walk towards the Opera to the the Galleries Layfette without getting lost. We ate a little cafe on our way by the opera. It was good and not too expensive. I think we paid about 8 euros a piece. The food was good. Most of the menus we saw served sausage and omlets so that is what we ended up eating. When we got done eating and went outside it was pouring down raining. Everything was flooding. We just started running like the rest of Paris was doing. It started lightning and thundering. That is one thing I will remember is running through a thunderstorm in Paris.We ran so fast across all of the streets but when we got to the mall we were still drenced with water. Once we entered the mall, how wet we were did not matter. There were designer brands everywhere. Prada, Ralph Lauren, Dior, Chanel and so many more. I was in love. Of course I could not buy anything but just looking around at these stores of class my mouth just dropped. The top of the mall is all decorated like a gold globe and they were already starting to get out Christmas things. I felt like I was in one of my dreams, or this place had been in a dream before. We just walked around and looked and looked, there was so much to see.

The next day Chin wanted to bring us to Versailles. I really didn't know what that was, but when we got there and found out that it was Marie Antoinette's Palace I couldn't believe it. This was a place that I had always said I wanted to visit it. It's funny how you end up at a place you always wanted to see with out planning it at all. We went inside the Palace and it was soooo pretty. The only bad thing was the crowd. We were packed like sardenes in there. But the ceilings and chandlers were so pretty to look at. There were these weird Japannesee sculpters there though. They aren't permitly there but I guess they were having an art show for those. They were extremely flower power and it was so awkard to see them in this historic Palace. The Marie Antoinette Gardens were the prettiest thing of the entire Palace. We ended up not going in the main entrance of the Gardens because they were having a show and we had to pay more, so we walked around the town, and Chin spoke french to a man and he showed us another entrance. I was actually happy that we walked this way. If we didnt we would not have seen the beautiful park. This park did not feel real at all. OOH it was seriously the prettiest place I have ever seen. the trees were all lined up in perfectly and we squared off. The leaves were changing and the paths were full with the colors. The path was a straight path that went for miles and you could see straight down it. Turn left or right and it looked the same with the lines of trees perfectly lined up. We walked and walked. There were some horses, sheep, and goats down one path. I think we walked probably for about 3 miles or so down the path. We ended up at the entrance of Marie Antointte's farm. You had to pay extra to enter the farm ,but Chin somehow talked the guy into letting us go in. It was great. Her farm was so cute and pretty. There were little cottagaes everywhere. We kept walking for more miles. My feet were aching so bad, heels were a bad idea to wear!! We walked and walked up the long paths of trees, and ended up closer to the Palace where the rest of the gardens lay. It was gorgeous. There was a straight pond that layed probably a half mile long in the middle and it was surrounded by the greenest grass and white statues of all of Gods stood along both sides of the path. I felt like I was in a fairytale. It was so pretty. My pictures do not show how pretty this was. At one end of the pond there we swans and up the stairs was the palace. There were green gardens like that been cut perfectly like a maze. This place is definately a place to visit if you have time when you are in Paris

I really wish I could be studying in France now. It is one of my favorite places. Paris the place of my dreams, and I would live there in a heartbeat. Maybe oneday!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

City After City Surrounded by Countryside

Lincoln College where John Wesley attended
Park in Oxford
The long river boats

The Alice Shop

Standing at the Alice and Wonderland Garden

The lamp post for Narnia

Oxford University

All Souls College

Where Harry Stood and his parents house
Oxford University site where it was filmed

Lacock Harry Potter Film Locations Above


Standing at Bath

And the Countryside

Guards walking the streets in Windsor The "long walk" in Windsor

Windsor Castle

City after city, we traveled this past weekend. It was practicaly a long road trip through England. One thing I can say is that the countryside of England is GORGEOUS. I can admit that it is prettier than Tennessee, but there is just something about the place you live that makes that pretty. At certain times while driving down the road here I felt like I was at home, then behind all of the trees the English countryside showed up and it no longer looked like TN. The land here is so rich and fertile. I would love to have a farm in England. It's so peaceful.
Well, going on with this amazing weekend trip. We ended up going to Windsor, Bath, Bristol, Lacock, Oxford, and Stonehenge. I'm not sure which one I can say was my favorite. They all contained so much history and were all gorgeous. I will start from the beginning.
We left Canterbury early in the morning and arrived at Windsor about 10 in the morning. We had our guided tour of the town and then a little bit of free time. Like all of the other cities I visited on this trip I had no idea what was in Windsor. It was amazing for me to find out that Windsor castle which lays in the middle of the town is where the queen actually lives. The guide said that she drives around town weekly. I wish we could have seen her. Everyday the guards walk the streets of the city. These are the guards with the big black hats and dressed all in red. We saw the march. It was really neat. Seeing this I said to myself, "Now this is England" Also in Windsor there is a 3 mile path. It's called the long walk and it lies right at the head of Windsor Castle. I wish so much that we would have had time to walk the walk. They said that the queen drives this all the time. It had that royal look to it. The shopping area in Windsor was called Windsor Royal Shopping. Of course Darette, Kaitlyn, Shannon and me fell in love with this area. We all have fallen in love with all of the shopping in England. I know I am definately coming back with a new style. I have bought about 6 or 7 dresses so far here, and I could buy hundreds more. Dresses are my new look. :) After Windsor we got back on the bus and travelled to Stonehenge. Again I had no idea what to expect. Driving out to Stonehenge was beautiful. There were so many sheep in the fields and again the grass was so fertile and green I felt like I had fallen in love. We arrived at Stonehenge and it was freezing! But the site of the rocks was spectualar. The history said that in the day these rocks were said to have been carried 160 miles and some just 19 miles. These rocks are so heavy and I can't imagine how these were carried those long distances up and down all of the hills. We had a good time at Stonehenge. We tried to take one of those famous pictures to look like we were holding the rocks. It didn't turn out so great, but we danced in front of the rocks and jumped around. There were sheep nearly 5 feet from us too. Some of the girls had never seen sheep before so it was a site for them to see them so close.
Stonehenge is one of those places you have to say you have been like the grand canyon ( Which I have never been to yet).
When we got to Bristol I was exhausted. I had been really sick earlier in the week with a fever, and I was just recovering. When I walked inside my eyes swelled up and were so pink, it was a good thing I still felt ok though. We stayed at a Holiday Inn in Bristol. It was nice, just like the ones at home, and my favorite part was that breakfast was served. I slept so good on the soft beds and it felt nice to take a shower in warm clean water. This was the first time I have watched TV since I got to England too. It was nice and relaxing. This trip felt like a vacation on a vaction.
The second day we made our way to Bath. And again I really I no idea what was in Bath. When we got closer the guide told us that the city held strick rules and all of the buildings had to be made from the yellow limestone. This city was gorgeous. All of the yellow buildings, the river and the view of the hilly countryside. I was in love once again. I was pretty much speechless when the bus drove up the road. Bath holds so much history too. We had our guided tour again around this city. We saw the Roman Baths. This was neat. There was water we could drink from the baths but I decided I wouldn't try it. There were signs all over the city that pictured out some of the must see places in England. The catherdral here was pretty too. Walking around this town I felt like I was in Italy or somewhere like that. There were over 4000 shopping places, and we went into so many unique stores. There was even an urban outfitters. Kaitlyn and I bought a reall cute yellow butterfly dress. It is the kind of dress you wouldn't pick out at first. Darette held it up and I told her it was so ugly. Then later we looked at it again and it was cute. It was only 5 pounds so we bought it. I think it is one of my favorite dresses I have bought. Also in Bath there were many little tea rooms and pastry shops. The layout and yellow buildings in this city is what I loved the best though. As we were leaving there was a street performer playing this insturment called the hang. He said it was one of the newest instruments and is from Italy. It sound so pretty. The sound was just relaxing like the ocean.
We left Bath and went back to the hotel in Bristol. There was a Mcdonalds on down the road from the hotel so a bunch of us decided we would check it out. It was probably the worst Mcdonalds I have ever been too. We also had quite an interesting walk back too. I wasn't scarred in the area of Bristol we were in, but i had heard earlier on the news that there is a road in Bristol that is the most dangerous road in the UK. Luckily we were no where close to this road.
The next morning was an early morning and we made our way to Oxford. I was sooo exicted. We made a stop in the small town of Lacock first. This was the cutest old town. It was like an English version of the Cumberland Gap. The population here is 400 or so people. All of the roads in Lacock were rock and the bulidings were all stone rock. There were about 2 main roads that we walked around. The cool thing about this town is that there were two places that Harry Potter was filmed at. One was Harry's parents house. I have a picture of it, and the other is one of the professors houses. The street in this town is a street that Harry and Dombledor walked down in I think the 6th movie.
When we got to Oxford we had our guided tour around the city. We saw all of the colleges from the Univeristy. This campus and town was so beautiful. It had that England upscale look like Windsor. I wish so bad I could attend Oxford University. All Souls College here was really pretty. We couldn't go in which was disappointing. We got to go into Lincoln College. This one is the college that John Wesley attended. We saw where John Wesley lived while he was there. Also while walking around campus there was another building that Harry Potter was filmed at. This trip really contained so much Harry Potter history. Also we saw where Bill Clinton went to school and lived while he was in Oxford and then where his daughter Chelsea lived. The best part about Oxford was all of the Alice and Wonderland history. The yard that the story orginated from is in Oxford. There is also a gift shop that is the offical Alice and Wonderland shop. We had to go in. While I was in Oxford I had to buy an Oxford sweatshirt too. We ate lunch in the middle of town on a park bench and then we walked down to the river. The park that the river was in was so pretty. The leaves were starting to change, so the fall weather made my day. I wasn't sure if leaves changed color in England but I was so happy to see that they did. At the river there were people rowing those long boats. This was really intersting. If we had time I would have loved to rent one and try it. There were many cool things in Oxford and it is probably my favorite city I have visited so far on this trip. The lamp post that gave CS Lewis the idea to write Narnia was there, and the coffee house that Jane Austen used to drink coffee in and write is also in Oxford.
I'm going to Paris this weekend, so there will be so much more for me to write about. I am traveling more than going to class and it is the best way to do school. I feel like I am learning more and more each day than I ever would in class. I am not just learning about history of England,but I am learning so much about myself.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"The Key to England"

Dover Castle on a foggy morning

Cooking in the Castle Castle Feast

Dover Castle

It's 3 am, and I decided to start writing this blog about Dover because I can't sit and stare at facebook any longer! I woke up about 2 because there were loud drums coming down the road. Why in the world were people doing this at this time..I have no idea! I still don't fully understand the Brits yet.
Well we took a trip with all of the other study abroad students to Dover Castle Friday. It was about 45 minutes away from Canterbury on the coast. Our morning ride over to Dover was so foggy. We all thought it would be another rainy cold day in England. My first view of the castle was this foggy spooky looking old castle. I thought for sure that it was haunted. I was pretty much in awe the entire day though, even from the beginning. Dover is named the "Key to England" It's because this castle and the war tunnels were used in many different time periods, from the iron age, napoleon, and the world wars. I had to write a paper about all of this so I kinda know more than I would have ever expected to want to know about Dover and Dover Castle. Well, the first thing we did was our tour through the secret war tunnels. These were all located under the White Cliffs that Dover is famous for. These were mainly used during World War II as a hidden communication system, housing and underground hospital. We weren't allowed to take pictures in the tunnels, but I was lucky enough to snap a quick shot of us entering. The tunnels were so dark and damp. It felt so much like a haunted tour. I can't believe that these were so important and used back in World War II. The hospital beds were still there, and the bunk beds for housing. The most interesting room was the telecommunications like room. It was where the women worked all day and all night locating who was coming up the coast, and what was happening in the invasion of Europe. We learned that the Castle and tunnels were never bombed or harmed during this time, although at some times people did know about them.
When we exited the tunnels. It was free time to walk around for the rest of the day. We were so lucky that it was a pretty day and the sun was out, there aren't many days in England that are like that. A few of us climbed a huge hill and ate on top and looked out among the English Channel. It was gorgeous. We could see for miles. The grass here is so fertile and green, and that's what makes the view so spectatular. After we ate we just started walking. This place was so big, we had no idea where to start. One of the first things we saw was a lookout building that they used during the wars too. It was a little small building, but I'm sure played a very important part. There were little windows that when you looked out it was a perfect scan of the horizon.
After we left the lookout building we started to walk towards the main gates of the Castle. At an instant I was shocked! It was so big and amazing. This is actually something I have never seen in my lifetime. A real castle is something all little girls dream about, and I started thinking back to when I was little and would play princess and all. It took us all day to walk around the entire castle. The castle tower was probably one of the coolest things. We went inside and I'm sure we were in there 2 or 2 and half hours max. There were so many stairs and different passage ways to take. We would randomly pick one and start walking up. Rooms in the castle were decorated in cute little cartoonish but real like rooms. There were little beds that were made as queen beds. There was a great feast table, and kings chair. There was an entire kitchen like area, where fake hams were hung up, and wheat bowl. We played around like we were kids in a make believe world. It definately felt like that. I loved it. When we got to the top of the Castle the view was amazing. This was the prettiest view I have had of England so far on this trip! I could see sheep grazing in the rich green fields, the English Channel with waving waves, and the white cliffs of Dover. Standing on top I definately realized how big the castle actually was.
Going to Dover Castle and the Secret War tunnels is one of the best places I have seen so far on this England trip. I reccomend anyone who goes to England to come here, and not miss out in seeing the "Key to England"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

normal day in canterbury movie_0001.wmv

In the Blink of an Eye

Tonight I have just been thinking about my experience as a whole in England so far. I have loved this experience but I now find myself saying that I am ready to go home. This isn't because I am homesick. It's just the feeling that if this was vacation it would be over and I would be on the flight back to the US. A few days ago I head about the terrorism travel warning in England for US travelers, and I got really scared. It was a feeling that I never want to have again. I really did not know what to think, but this is all directed to the places that I am at, and the to people like me U. S. residents in England. Over the last few days after talking to family and friends at home and others here I have calmed down with everything. My mom reminded me that God sent me to England for a reason. I may not understand nor did I realize it when it happened but he did send me here, and is watching over me everyday. I am going to continue making the best of my time here and see all that I came here to see without letting fear step in the way.
I feel like I have lost the strong relationship I had with God in the past year. Growing up I started to meet more people who were not Christians. In the past when I was a FCA officer and we were there to encourage the ones who did not know God I said everyone I know is a Christian. I had never meet anyone who wasn't. It was just what we all have grown up with. Now that I have started to travel and be on my own I am meeting people everyday who aren't and realized that I have lost the person I was who had the strong relationship with God. Tonight I started to listen to some of the old christian songs that I would play over and over back in the day like Amazing Grace Our chains are Gone, Word of God Speak, several Jeremey Camp songs, and just felt God's strenght carrying me on. I haven't felt this in such a long time. I am now ready to approach my trip knowing that God is there right beside me the feelings that I had 2 years ago, the ones that I will now never lose again. I have to add the lyrics to this MercyMe song. It describes everything I now see.
You put me here for a reason
You have a mission for me
You knew my name and You called it
Long before I learned to breathe
Sometimes I feel disappointed
By the way I spend my time
How can I further your kingdom
When I'm so wrapped up in mine
In a Blink of an eye that is when
I'll be closer to you than I've been
Time will fly
but until then
I'll embrace every moment I'm given
There's a reason I'm alive
In a Blink of an Eye

My classes have been great so far. That is all I did today is go to pop music and culture class at 9 and advertising class at 3. Advertising is probably my favorite class. We have an hour lecture and then the class in split and there is another hour seminar. I think our professor really favors the Americans. There are only 3 of us, but he loves everything we say. I am able to particapate so much in this class. I know that it is something I will definately do in the future. It rained again today. I think it has rained at least 8 days non stop. My umbrella broke the other night,( it was only a pound and cheap one so I can understand why). I'm going to have to buy me a better umbrella to finish this trip out. Kaitlyn and I are so excited about our birthday. This will be our 2nd birthday that we have had away from home. It is hard, but with friends there and we have each other everything has been ok. We are having birthday party and going out to eat, and prolly to club chemistry. The next day we are taking a trip to the Dover Castle and caves with the people for the study abroad program. I will write about that trip in the next blog. :)