Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I saw London and then I left.

I am sitting in the Stansted Airport waiting to board my flight back to Seville. London was amazing. I am exhausted and my feet feel like stone... I never realized how heavy my body was until yesterday evening. I will start the tale of my adventure from the beginning, since that is usually the best place to start a story.


Thursday. Day 1.

I arrived at midnight. Planning to camp out in, what I imagined to be, a dark empty airport terminal. When I got there I was surprised to find a wonderful coffee shop open 24 hours... with couches and large mugs of coffee. I staked my claim. Eventually, I moved because the cold air was blowing on me and I was freezing to death. I bought a very large mug of coffee and 24 hrs of internet (not consecutive ... luckily) and sat. I talked to my parents, grandma, my sister's boyfriend... though by accident. I organized my schedule for the fall semester, watched Volver for my cinema class and also just browsed online. I did not sleep, not even dose. Night 1.

Friday. Day 2

6:15am... time to "get up". I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth rinsed my face and so on. Then, I looked for a map. I went to information. They have no free maps at Stansted, in case you are wondering, it cost 3£. And so the ridiculous tale of overpriced London life began...

7:15am. I got on the bus. I looked outside and it was beautiful countryside. Then I fell asleep.

8:00am.

I arrived in London at Victoria Station. It took a moment to orientate myself. After some needless walking I found out where I was and headed for Buckingham Palace. I got there too early. I looked in my 3£ map/ guidebook and it said that every other day in March - September they do changing of the guard every other day at 11:30. I left.

I walked to look for an English Breakfast. Not that easy to find, considering it was Friday so I needed one without meat. I was determined not to eat around Victoria Station because I thought it was too typical tourist. So, I headed to Westminster Cathedral. It was beautiful and wonderful.
I took photos and then sat to enjoy the beauty and pray. Then, I pulled myself away and though not wanting to, I left.

I did not find food over there save McDonald's. I swear McDonald's and Starbucks are taking over the world. McDonald's is the dark force and Starbucks is the true way to caffeinated salvation.
Anyway, I (you guessed it) ended up eating by Victoria station at place that had a vegetarian English breakfast. I went to the Hostel to check in. I was too early. I left my computer there and left for Buckingham Palace, hoping that today was the odd day that they did it. It was and It was really cool. I saw it, was awed then I left.

I walked through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and I fell in Love. It was extraordinary. I found Peter Pan and I was enchanted with the quaintness of the gardens. I walked to Notting Hill... admittedly because of the movie. No, I was not looking for Hugh Grant, I was looking for the charming facades that were in Notting Hill. I found them and then I left.

It took me a while to orient myself. I tried to go to the metro but it costs 4£ just to get one pass. So I left. I walked to the British Museum. Before I went in I went to STARBUCKS. You are out of your head if you think that I could go anywhere without going to that place. Actually, I wasn't going to go but it was the only place (for coffee) that I saw and my feet were killing me. I got a Caramel Macchiato, which was incredible, toyed with the idea of buying a London mug... and then I left without the mug.

I liked the British Museum. I saw exhibits from ancient Egypt, Africa, Asia, Britain, and more and then I left.

I walked to the London Bridge. It took me a while and I got lost a few times so that by the time I got there I abandoned my idea of going to Tate Modern because I was so tired. I got some really good pictures of Tower Bridge. It was cool to see it lit up at night time. I decided that 4£ for the metro was not so bad after all. I hopped on and I left.

Decidedly, it was a good decision to take the metro because I had trouble walking from the station to the hostel, which was very close. It was then that I realized I had walked extremely far and had not slept in 24 hours. I gave up my idea for dinner of Fish and Chips and I went to the Hostel to go to bed... after I skyped my mom to wish her a Happy Birthday.

9pm. I went to bed.

Saturday. Day 3.

I woke up at 6am and laid in bed till 7. I got up and stretched for 45 minutes. I went downstairs and had breakfast: toast and dry cereal. Tried to skype my Uncle for a few minutes. Emailed my mom. Checked out of the hostel. Then, I left.

I walked to Tate Britain. It does not open until 10am. So, I left and walked to The house of Parliament and visited the well known St. Stephen (Ben) before breakfast. I took photos and saw Westminster Abbey. From the outside of course, I am sure that it is quite beautiful inside... but I decided that I do not belong to the Church of England so I will not honor it, but rather the Catholic Church in Westminster: The Cathedral. Anyway, I took photos of everything in that area including a photo of our good friend Churchill. Then, I left. I walked back to the Tate. I got a huge bottle of water on the way there because I had realized I had not had any liquid other than coffee since Thursday. Then I went to this cafe called PRET A MANGER. If you ever see one, go in. The food was nice (natural) and the people were SOO NICE. I drank my coffee and chatted with them the whole time. It was nice. Then I went to Tate Britain and enjoyed myself immeasurably. The art was astounding and there were so many families with little children there doing art projects. There was an art cart for children. It was idyllic, the children making art surrounded by beautiful works of art. I walked around and studied the art and the information about the art. Then, sadly, not wanting to, I left.

1pm

At 1:15 I was supposed to get on a bus back to the airport. at 1pm I decided I had to get Fish and Chips whether or not that would mess up my travel plans. I ate wonderful and expensive Fish and Chips after a series of doubts and recollections of our last meal in Paris which led to a good hard run. I enjoyed it. Then, I left.

It seems I did so many things in London.. but I had forgotten to buy anything to show it.

I made it to the airport. And bought a magnet and two postcards. I got my boarding pass made it through security, walked around aimlessly for about 20 minutes. Then decided to get coffee and a muffin from a cute shop. I sat down and enjoyed it very much. Then I left. At, First I went to the wrong terminal. I was very early. I made it to the correct terminal with 1 hour and 45 minutes to spare.

I got on the plane...

It took off...

and I left London.

I did many things in London. I enjoyed everything I did except the leaving, which was as frequent as the coming... One day I will go back and hopefully do much less leaving and much more staying to see and enjoy.

~ I had a wonderful weekend I hope you all did too ~





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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Morocco!!

Hello Everyone,


I finally made it to Africa., a place I have wanted to go since I was a kid and my aunt went there for the peace corps. I still feel the need to venture further into Africa where the culture is less Arabic and more like the Africa I have always imagined but I would like to think that at age 19 I still have time.

I went to Morocco last weekend and It was incredible. First, the landscape is magnificently green and diverse thought the country. The Food was absolutely amazing. I had Couscous and vegetables and more vegetables and wonderful breakfast pastries and wonderful coffee and amazing dinner the last night. It was all incredible I took pictures to prove it. Also, it tasted better then it looks and I think it looks wonderful!!

We went to Tangier, Rabat, Fez, and Assilah. We had the best food in Rabat and we saw what once was intended to be the largest mosque in Morocco but it was never completed. In Fez we stayed at a very fancy hotel thus not really seeing the culture but it was nice because the restaurant was on the top floor so we could see the whole city. I was randomly placed with two girls since I didn’t know anyone going on the trip. The one designed her own major relating to peace and social studies. Her father is the country director for Uganda in the Peace Corps. The other girl was a history major from Yale studying the history of Latino├ímerica focusing on immigration issues. We had wonderful conversation and similar perspectives on developing countries and diversity. It was very nice because the majority of the people on the trip did not seem to have the same perspective on anything. The majority seemed to be on the trip for fun and honestly did not seem pleased that things weren’t “American” enough … which I supposed means up to par.

The medina in Fez was incredible. The medina is the traditional Arab part of the town. It is a labyrinth of 9,000 streets. We spent the whole day in the medina. It was somewhat overwhelming but extremely interesting. Some people didn’t enjoy the medina because parts were smelly and parts were crowded and parts were busy… that is why I loved it. We saw the traditional Arabian life of Morocco. Admittedly, parts were a little smelly, like the leather tannery. I almost threw up. But I am still very glad I had the opportunity to see it.

One of my roommates and I decided to walk around Fez after dinner in the hotel. It was nice to see Fez without 50 -60 other Americans. When you are walking around any place with a large group of Americans I think what you mostly see is the peoples’ response to Americans rather than what the country is actually like. It is like a tidal wave on a beach. I don’t think a tidal wave has ever seen the sand because it brings so much water with it everything washes away. Some people were shocked that we left the hotel and asked us if we were scared. I think people need a good lesson in diversity and need to take off American Vision Glasses and realize that people are not dangerous simply because they are different. We were safe on a main road in the European part of Fez. We saw Fez without the tidal wave. It was nice and it rained.

The last day in Morocco we went to Assilah. Which is a very quaint beach town. I saw two camels. The town was very interesting. We spent the day walking around. And then headed back onto the bus and back for Spain. When we were on the bus back there were children who try to hitch rides on the back of the buss… illegally or try to get under it to sneak into Spain. The response of the people on the bus was most unpleasant. They did not seem to understand the desperation of some nor the fact that life is different from America. One girl said, well I guess there is no where to hang out here. Another said, oh I bet their moms are worried, they are probably going to miss lunch. It was sad to hear the ignorance of the College students, maybe the experience opened there eyes so that when they are older they will understand that there is poverty, suffering, hunger, and desperation, in the world but there is also content with little, hope, diversity, happiness, and peace in other countries, and over all, there is patriotism that exists without the word American in front of it. Maybe those kids will learn that one day but sadly they didn’t seem to understand it last weekend.
I think that my trip to morocco was very educational and interesting. It was also the first time I have been in a predominantly Muslim country. I was woken up by morning prayer at 5:30 am. One thing we Christians could learn from the Muslims is the importance of constant prayer.

I hope you all had a great weekend as well!
Next week I am off the London!! Enjoy the week and I will post something again soon!!


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