Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Time Has Come The Walrus Said To Talk Of Other Things, Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax, of Cabbages and Kings

Have you ever been in a setting in which the magic in the air was almost tangible? Not Disneyland magical, where millions of dollars are shoveled into the creation of a magic feeling. But really magical.  Magic because of the sense of liberation that quietly resides within this given place. I live near a park that is crisscrossed paths leading where ever you want them to go, ponds sprinkled with the white feathers of swans and miles of grass and trees. Each stroll i take leads to a new grassy patch, a new statue, a new bench to sit and find solitude. Each turn in the road leads to a new bit of magic that has yet to be discovered.

I love running through these winding paths, looking about as people discover this magic for themselves. I wonder what this park means for them? What could the man with the white beard and gray cap be writing? He often seeks the magic of the park, sitting under the same tree every day, captivated by the world he is creating on his parchment. Or the elderly couple sitting on a wooden bench, hand in hand.  There isn't a need for talking the years they have shared together leaves them silently enjoying the quiet. I know they understand the magic stored beneath the leaves of Hyde Park. This park is one thing I think I am going to miss most when my adventures in London have finished. for the park is truly enchanting.

Alice and Wonderland must be credited for the many adventures we have related to her strange story during our London Town adventure.  Our lovely group decided it was time to celebrate a VeRRY meRRY UnbIRThday to ALL oF us! We dresses up in our finest tea party attire and baked our finest tea party treats and went to the park to celebrate anyone who has a birthday.  The herbal tea, finger sandwiches, sunshine and company of good friends made for an exquisite afternoon. 

Lunch at La Creperie de Hamstead

Our amazing scrumptious chocolate, nutella, vanilla Sunday floating in warm, creamy hot fudge and sprinkled with pralines.  Best 15 pounds we ever spent! 

 The Ballet, Manon, at the Royal Opera House.  I felt so cultured and the ballet was beautiful, it made me miss dancing.

Field Trip to the grand Kew Gardens.  We enjoyed getting lost in the nearly 300 acres of beautiful gardens.

Giant Lily pad Pond.
 I keep hearing about the infamous London rain.  Over the last three weeks rain drops have merely flirted with us, clouding the sky but never really dropping for longer than a few minutes.  But of course the day we schedule the gardens the rain greets us with vengeance! I was loving every drop though.  We had to experience a down pour at least once. Plus I finally was able to put my umbrella to good use.  I have carried it with me every where for the past 21 days and until now it has just been one more thing to carry. 

 Dinner at Borough Market... I had what can only really be described as a vegetarian explosion!
[meg you would have been in heaven!]

"I can't take my eyes off of you, you're just too good to be true." This song from one of new favorite musicals perfectly describes, Jersey Boys! Frankie Valli AND the 4 Seasons is almost too good to be true. The show stole my heart and I have been singing the songs since the performance ... I was surprised how many of the songs I knew, apparently they were more legendary than I realized.  The singing and dancing is phenomenal and we left the theater with an extra skip in our step.  One of the best parts of the night was the fact that we were the youngest ones in the theater by a good 30 years AND we were dancing and singing the least! It was a great night.

Cheers for now!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Wee Bit o Scotland

Last week was travel week for the London Theater Study Abroaders. I went to SCOTLAND! Can I just say that Scotland is a beautiful place. I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to literally backpack the ENTIRE country in only FOUR days. It was quite the adventure. We were only going to be gone so I decided this would be a lovely time to ditch the make up and the shampoo and rough it - get the real sense of what backpacking through Europe would feel like. And ya know, it felt pretty good. This isn't to say that I wasn't so excited to take one of the longest showers of my life when we returned home on Saturday.

Scotland is, as I came to found, much much colder than London. I should have realized this, seeing how far North it is, but I did not. This lack of recognition on my part resulted in only packing one long sleeved shirt, a sweat shirt and a rain jacket. If it looks like I am wearing the exact same outfit in every picture, well that would be because I am in fact wearing the exact same outfit in every picture. Everyday I would wake up, put on my jeans and tennis shoes and head out the door. Most nights I was even to cold to change shirts so my everyday outfit, often became my every night outfit as well. Roughin it's what I wanted and roughin it's what I got!

The first day we flew into Edinburgh and were amazed by what we saw. Although England and Scotland's histories have overlapped throughout the centuries and they have many similarities, their architecture is very different. Scotland has a much more gothic feel, with dark stones and pointed tops.

We ate dinner at a pub called the Amber Rose. They were having a deal which included 2 for 1 dinners and even better 2 for 1 DESSERTS! Yum! The meals were quite cheap.... I think they expect people to spend a lot of money on alcohol and so they make the food fairly inexpensive. We were the only ones in the whole pub eating. When we walked up to the bar and asked for 6 waters the bartender was baffled. They gave us free water though and it even had ice! I was in heaven.

Carly and I split desserts she got the triple layer chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and I got the apple and chocolate cheesecake. It was divine.

Scotland lost so many victims to the black plague that essentially they buried the entire city of dead by building a new city right on top. Caverns of the buried city are still accessible. We went on a City of the Dead Tour through some of these haunted caverns. Our tour guide had a thick Celtic accent and provided us with fun stories about olden day Scotland. Some people claimed to have heard spirits whisper to them or could feel a presence. All I have to say is... I aint 'fraid of no ghost. (I had the ghostbusters theme song playing through my head the entire tour)

We woke up at 3:30 AM to hike a sunrise hike overlooking Edinburgh. So windy, so freezing, so early, but the view was breathtaking! This was one of my favorite parts of our entire trip to the land of the Scotts.

This is what Edinburgh looks like at 4 in the MORNING.

Edinburgh Castle - this is the first thing you see when you enter the city. It is set high on the very edge of the cliff.

Day 2 we woke up early and walked along the coast to catch a ferry which took us to the most Norther part of Scotland - The Orkney Islands. Remember that Scotland is EXTREMELY windy. This makes for a very wavy ferry ride. Lots of sick tummies.

We stopped at a cafe and had lunch. We mostly lived off of easy access food aka oranges and apples so this meal was delicious and desperately needed.

Skara Brae is a small village from before the pyramids were created. Basically it looks like the Shire. It was really neat though and the coast is so scenic.

We walked along the cliffs for three miles - taking in some of the most beautiful sights we had ever seen. No matter how many times we walked to the edge we couldn't believe how beautiful the view was. The power of the waves against the monstrous cliff edge left me unable to speak. This walk was so refreshing and peaceful. The quiet solitude I found was what I was searching for when I decided to go to Scotland. Sometimes we all need to take a moment and think. Just think. Not necessarily about one thing or another but just let our thoughts run free in our minds. Thanks for reminding me of this Yesnaby.

We saw 9 rainbows during our four day adventure.

Our last Hostel - Caledonian Backpackers.

Our final destination in Scotland was Loch Ness... It was raining so we were unable to have a "nessie" sighting.

We didn't see very many people but we saw a whole lot of SHEEP. Yes, those are very real sheep sitting on the front porch of this house.

It was after hours so the castle was closed but the lady at the hostel advised us to go when it was closed so we wouldn't have to pay.... when in Scotland?...

We spent a lot of time waiting for trains, buses, planes - it was an adventure and I wouldn't take it back for anything. If you want to walk a lot and see some of the most beautiful rolling GREEN hills on the face of this earth, I suggest you go get lost in Scotland for a few days.