Friday, February 25, 2011

And now, my trip to Prague!

Alright, so I'm going to attempt to get caught up on this blog, starting with my trip to Prague. First lesson learned, doors in Prague are difficult. I'm not sure why that is, but they don't like to open, or close, or lock, or be unlocked. It made for some entertaining moments over the four days that I was there.

I got in late at night on Saturday, and was immediately greeted by my shuttle driver and his wife (who were both crazy adorable, btw). He drove me out to my hostel, which was pretty incredible! There was a beautiful stone stairwell that I got to walk up everyday and the doors and ceilings were so ornate. I also ended up having an entire 6 person dorm room to myself most of the nights that I was there, which I definitely wasn't expecting. Basically, the lesson here is that if you ever go to Prague, stay at the River Bank Hostel!

I met up with Lizzy that night, and we hung out for a bit (after getting dinner at McDonald's. I know, but I hadn't eaten all day and it was the only thing that was open that late), and then I went back to my hostel and got some much-needed sleep. On Sunday, we went to the top of Petrin Hill to see the mini Eiffel Tower, and climbed about halfway up it to get some really cool photos of Prague.

We then wandered around Kampa island, which was an adorable little town with some great shops, before heading over to the Czech Museum of Music. At the museum, they had a special exhibit on the Beatles, which was really cool! Trust me, I'd show you pictures if they had let me take them. They had one display in there where you could experience "beatle-mania". You step into a small enclave surrounded by photos of screaming fans and after a second or two, the room erupts into shouts and screams. It was really cool, but terrifying if you weren't expecting it to happen! The rest of the museum was gorgeous, especially the sections of harps, harpsichords, and music boxes. Lizzy and I have decided that when we are eccentric billionaires, she will collect harpsichords, and I will collect harps, and we will start a band. So, be on the lookout in a couple of decades for a grammy-winning band called Harp(squared)sichord!

On Monday, I went to visit Prague Castle. It was freezing that day so that I could barely stand to be outside, and so I didn't end up spending as much time out there as I would have liked. I did get to see the changing of the guard, though, and wander around the palace and St. Vitus's Cathedral.

On Tuesday, I took a free walking tour of Prague. I kind of wish that I had done that first, since it gave me a lot of background that would have been nice to know, but oh well, lesson learned. We went through Old Town Square, into the Jewish Quarter (where there was a really strange but awesome statue of Franz Kafka), into St. Jacob's Church, which is one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen, and saw the theater where Don Giovanni premiered. It was really interesting and we saw a ton in under two hours! I've picked out a couple of pictures that I think point out the highlights of the tour, but there was so much to see that I could never cover it all.

Wednesday was a pretty low-key day. I went further down into the South of Prague to see the Cubist houses, a form of architecture unique to Prague. Although that was all I had planned on seeing that day, I did end up climbing the hill to Vysehrad, which is the location of another palace. I didn't go into the Palace, but I did wander around the cemetery before heading back to meet up with Lizzy for lunch (paninis from a French cafe) and then getting on the tram out to the airport.

Prague was really incredible (and budget friendly! Everything, even the hostel and airport shuttle, included, I spent under $200 for all four days), and if you're planning on being in Europe anytime soon, I highly recommend going! Oh, and thanks Lizzy for studying abroad there, because I never would have thought to go otherwise :)

In other news, I have finished my third essay, which was on the ways people coped with the London Blitz, and am about to start my final paper, which is on plot (or lack thereof) in the novels of Virginia Woolf. Once I'm done with this in two weeks, I have no more work until the end of April!!


P.S. Lizzy and I managed to find a Mexican restaurant in Prague, and so my craving for enchiladas has been satisfied :) They were quite delicious.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Yes, I realize I should probably start with Prague, but I'm so excited about my recent birthday that I would really rather talk about that first!

So, as most of you know, I spent my birthday weekend in Paris with a couple friends, Lizzy, Jenny, William, Jamie, Risha, Sonal, Charmaine, and Mary. First of all, it was really fun to be able to speak in French to shopkeepers and waiters and have them actually understand me! My five years of French have turned out to be useful lol. Sonal, Charmaine, and Mary got in on Thursday and spent a day traveling around before the rest of us got there on Friday. That day we spent the late afternoon and evening on the Champs-Elysee, followed by a trip up to the top of L'Arc de Triomphe for a few of us. It was so cool to be up there late at night with all the city lights on.

On Saturday (the actual day of my birthday!), we split up into different groups. William went to the Louvre; Mary, Sonal, and Risha slept in; and Jamie, Charmaine, Jenny, Lizzy and I went to visit the grave of Oscar Wilde :) I spent the morning of my 21st birthday visiting Oscar Wilde. Be jealous ;P Oscar Wilde's grave is constantly defaced and covered in lipstick by his fans, which meant of course, that I needed to pay my respects and kiss the grave. The others either kissed or wrote on it as well. Despite the fact that it was a very cold, rainy day, it was a really awesome morning.

Afterwards, we were meeting up with William and Risha near the Eiffel Tower, and so we all gathered in a cafe for hot drinks and lunch (mulled wine with cinnamon and a croque-monsieur for me). The drinks were incredible and the food was delicious, too, of course. The original plan had been to go to the Eiffel Tower that day, but due to the combination of cold, wind, rain, and fog, we decided to go visit Notre Dame instead. I had forgotten just how incredible Notre Dame is, and I'm so glad we decided to go.

We then climbed to the top of the tower, which I had never done before. We saw the gargoyles and got incredible views of the city and the river. The bells also started chiming while we were up there, which was such a great coincidence. So basically I stood at the top of Notre Dame, looking out over the city of Paris with the bells chiming behind me, on the afternoon of my 21st birthday. Although I'm still a little sad I couldn't celebrate at Krewe de Vieux, this was pretty cool.

We then had the most delicious dinner I've had in a long time. I can't remember what all everyone else ordered, but I can give you my courses. For my appetizer, I had artichoke soup, followed by my entree of veal and glazed vegetables, followed by desert- a bourbon cream filled pastry covered in caramel sauce. We also got tons of bread, toast and a fish spread of some sort, and a bottle of white wine. It was incredible. The name of the restaurant is Le Tourbillon and it's located at 45, rue Claude Bernard.

I didn't take pictures at the bar that night, because I only brought my nice camera, and I don't take that out with me, but keep your eye on facebook for other people to post photos. We went to this bar called the Latin Corner Cafe, where all the bartenders are male and wear nothing but boxers! The drinks were fantastic and the guys were all insanely hot, which adds up to an incredible night. Again, definitely recommended.

This morning, Sunday morning, Lizzy and I went back to Notre Dame for mass while the others went to go see the Opera house. The mass was wonderful. They used huge amounts of incense and it smelled so good and really made me feel a part of the history of the Catholic Church and our mass. It's funny how incense can do that :). The mass was in French, but because the mass is the same everywhere, I could still follow along (aside from actually understanding the homily), which is another of my favorite things about the Catholic church. After that, Lizzy and I got crepes (butter + sugar and raspberry, respectively), and then made our way to the Eiffel Tower before she needed to leave for her flight back to Prague.

It was still pretty cold today and it took forever to get through the line, but you can't get a better view of Paris than from the top of the Eiffel Tower. It really is one of those things that you just need to do when you go to Paris. After that, I dropped Lizzy off at the Metro to head to the airport and then met up with everyone else to get on the train. I am now back in London and definitely not ready to go back to classes tomorrow.

So yeah, that wraps up my birthday. Up next, all the details on my trip to Prague, which was another really amazing vacation.


Monday, February 7, 2011

2 papers down, 2 to go! (Plus, my busy weekend)

On Friday, I had my second paper due of the term. The grading system is weird here, so just know that my grade translates into an A back in the US. Yay! So far, I have written on...
1. Modern English Language: The use of nonstandard English grammar in spoken English
2. Chaucer: The characterization of male victims of adultery in The Canterbury Tales

My next paper is for Moderns I, and is on the London Blitz. I haven't read the books yet, so I'm not entirely sure what the paper's going to be talking about, but it should be fun. No more Chaucer!

This weekend, I was insanely busy, but in a good way. First up was a trip to Stonehenge. It was a lot smaller than I expected, but it was still really cool and I am so glad I went! Here's me in front of Stonehenge.

After Stonehenge, they drove us a little town called Salisbury. It had a gorgeous cathedral and great shopping. I'd love to go back when it's warmer, so that I could walk around the market and not freeze. I ended up buying some delicious smelling soap and talking about New Orleans with the guy in the soap shop (he's always wanted to go there, apparently). I also met a girl named Karen who's studying anthropology. We both share an interest in midwifery. She studied birth from an anthropological perspective, and part of my honors thesis on motherhood in American literature will be on the representations of childbirth. So, we ended up having a beer and talking for awhile. Although there wasn't a whole lot to do in Salisbury because of how cold it was, it ended up being a pretty good day.

Yesterday, one of my friends from the Hiking Society, Jamie, asked if I wanted to go see the Chinese New Year celebration going on down at Trafalgar Square, so I went. There were so many people! It was absolute chaos, but once we figured out how to get in, we got balloons and little dragons and walked around for awhile, watching really cool performances by Chinese dancers and an opera singer. Welcome to the Year of the Rabbit!

Now I'm back to classes. Upcoming in my year abroad: a Jack the Ripper walk on Thursday, and then on Saturday I'm off to Prague to visit Lizzy! The following Friday, I'll be leaving to go celebrate my birthday in Paris. Yes, sadly, I will not be in the US to celebrate my 21st birthday, but rather in a country where no one really cares about 21. Oh well. I'll have to make the best of a sucky situation. And yes, I know, Paris is cool. But it's not a 21st birthday on a Saturday during the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans.

Whatever. I'm over it. Love you guys!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Urban Ballerina collection by Sephora

OMG, I cannot wait to get to Paris so I can get to a Sephora! They have released a new collection of nail polishes and they're all so gorgeous!

Urban Ballerina Nail Polish Collection

Although I love all the shades (with the exception of The Way TuTu His Heart), the ones I want most desperately are Shiny Dancer and Let's Plie. Leotard Optional and Who's Spinning Tonight are also fabulous, but I already own similar shades, and Break A Leg-Warmer looks like Shiny Dance, but without the shimmer, so less fun.

Why would you release such gorgeous colors when I am in a country with none of your stores? Why, Sephora, why?

Ok, rant over. Getting back to my Chaucer paper now lol.