Monthly Archives: January 2013

And back home we go

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(View from St. Paul’s Cathedral. We got to look over the entire city the first night. It was both terrifying and wonderful all at the same time)

The Last two weeks have been an incredible rush. From sunup to sundown (which happened at like 4:30 p.m. in London) I had the opportunity to traverse London and surrounding areas like Bath, Oxford and a quick pop over to Paris. 

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to travel and praise God for being faithful and providing for me financially. If you’d asked me last year at this time when I’d come back from Ireland about traveling overseas again I would have said,” that’s a great DREAM, but there’s no way I could raise the $3,000+ money it costs for that trip to London/Paris.” 

Well, once again God proved me wrong, He’s got such a way of doing that. Someday I’ll have a little more faith in what the Father can do for me. 

Anyway, I got back from the trip last night and was immediately greeted by my parents by my dad holding out his empty coffee mug waiting for me to pull out the $40 worth of tea I bought (I told you friends that my family loves tea). And got to share some of the funny stories and experiences I’d had over the last two weeks. And Giggles, they told me I should have offered to tie the guards shoe too…I fail I guess ;-P

A lot of people have asked me already what was different between the U.S. and the U.K and in all honesty, they really are similar. London is filled with people with all different backgrounds and lifestyles. You have rich people from all around the world living in London, you have refugees from all over the world (currently there are a number of them from Bangladesh). They have poverty and poor and a number of homeless people (all of the homeless people seem to have dogs which I find strange) and they have wealth. 

However, they are different in a number of ways as well

  • They are more family oriented: A lot of shops close around 5 p.m. and a number of restaurants close early as well
  • Mayo: They eat mayo on their “chips” —what we call french fries
  • Ketchup: It’s served in glass bottles which is AMAZING, but it’s super sweet and I wound up having to salt it down haha.
  • Whatever they put on hamburgers: They have this strange sauce that I can’t place that they use on all of their hamburgers that I didn’t really get into and have no idea how to describe haha!
  • Phrases: They have a lot of phrases they use, like on the tube if they need to get by you they’ll say something like “cheers” after they push through
  • Public transportation: It great here, everything runs on time and if you miss one train another one goes by in a few minutes so you never have to wait. 
  • Historic: They have insane history here, many of their restaurants are several hundred years old.
  • Small: EVERYTHING is small here. Food portions and houses. A number of restaurants we ate in had multiple levels to them and you had to walk up this tiny staircase to get to the next floor. Toilets were often found in the basement and one time we had to walk across a yard in the dark to go to the toilet in Oxford (it was super sketchy, I’ll write about that later).
  • You can’t just use a toilet: Most of the time you have to buy something in a store or pay to use the toilet, you don’t just get to use it. 

Overall though, I am so thankful to have gone and experienced a city overseas after visiting the country last year. I’m looking forward to the next adventures that my future holds and for the new cultures and experiences that I’ll have. 

And WHEN I come back (and oh, I’m coming back) I will go back to Bath and see the Jane Austen Museum thank you very much!! ;-P

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Harry, Jack and Butterbeer, oh the joys of days off!

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So, yeah, I am a little behind on blog posts…sorry, I find it more enjoyable to spend my evenings playing cards or chatting with friends than being the studious student I should be on this trip and talk about what I’ve been experiencing. Oh well. 

Thursday last week Dominic, Pam, myself and our professors headed off to the Harry Potter Studios to see the actual sets used in Harry Potter. Let me just say that even though I have been a Harry Potter fan on decline, I LOVED experiencing this studio. We saw tons of memorabilia from the movies and had the chance to “fly” on a broom and try Butterbeer. Butterbeer actually tastes a ton better than I expected it to taste, it had a kind of butterscotch type taste with this extra sweet after taste. For 3 and a half hours we entertained ourselves throughout the studio looking, reading and listening to all the information we could about all things Harry Potter. 

There were so many breathtaking moments through out our experience there, it was so worth the time we spent there. 

From there we headed on the Jack the Ripper walking tour, which, let me just say, NO ONE should know that much about a murderer! It was super interesting, but I couldn’t shake this thought of “why do you care so much about this freaky murderer?” But, I went along with it and learned a ton, plus it was a great adventure to be had with my friends. 

It was great having this day off right after our insane 36 hour trip to Paris. It gave us all a chance to just relax and experience different parts of the city we wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. Thankfully, there were no mishaps – no ripping pants, no tripping guards, just a normal, plain day. 🙂

Paris Round Two

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The Eiffel Tower is quite a sight isn’t it? I’m so thankful we had this little guidebook that the Duff’s brought with them so they were able to take us around buildings so we walked up to the Eiffel Tower in a way that took away our breath, it was amazing. 

I expected the Eiffel Tower to be a lot uglier than it was, and a lot darker. However, the Eiffel Tower was painted this light brown which was adorable and walking up to the Eiffel Tower from the back almost literally took my breath away. Even though I hadn’t necessarily had the greatest experience up until then in Paris (I mean ripping my pants, hearing horror stories about our group members seeing a man pee in the Metro…) but as soon as I saw that I was so thankful that I’d come to Paris. It made the entire day.

The rest of our day we spent walking the Champs Elysee’s (singing the song of course, thank you French Class!!) and eating crepes and taking us to the Louvre where we saw the Mona Lisa which is way smaller than I first realized. 

So overall, I can’t imagine not experiencing Paris during this two week trip overseas, this has been a great way to see the urban/city side of Europe that I didn’t see last year when I was roaming the open pastures in Ireland.   

From Paris Avec Amour

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Bonjour Paris! Monday  we started our trek to Paris, France about 5 a.m. London time (much too early if you ask me, but whateves) and by 10:30 a.m. we were in Paris with another passport stamp (whoop, whoop!) and our 36 hour adventure began.

The first thing I noticed when we got to Paris was how dirty it was, even more so than London was when we got off the plane. Things in Paris were old looking, the metro station looked worn and smelled pretty nasty (later we heard tales that other members of our group witnessed a man peeing in the metro, not a great start to a trip there) and there was trash everywhere. Things are also a lot smaller in Paris, cars, food portions, escalators, anything you can think of. It was also a ton more expensive in Paris as our average Coke price there (funny how we’ve been pretty much surviving on it over here) was approximately 4.80 Euros, which translates back to $6.40 –no thanks for less than 12 ounces.

Needless to say, our trip started with a lot of disappointments, especially when comparing to London. It’s funny how you can build a country up so much in your head for so many years and be so disappointed by it as soon as you get there.

But then we started our tour. Our first Stop was The Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmare

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If you think this building is beautiful on the outside, you should see the inside. I’ve never seen architecture like this anywhere, not in the United States, not in Ireland. Only in England and France. Words can’t describe the beauty of this building and of Notre Dame. My only disappointment was that they allowed us to parade through during mass which I felt took away from the service and from God. It’s become so much of a tourist attraction I find it sad sometimes that these churches aren’t being filled to the brim with devoted believers, instead tourists parade through with their cameras just to snap a picture and say they’ve been some where famous. Alas, that is my rant.

From there we were allowed to head to our hotel to drop off our stuff and break before touring the city more and meeting up with the Paris J-Term group for dinner. Cassie, Brie and I got to share a room on the top floor and we were so excited when we got there and discovered we had a balcony that we figured out how to get the door open and headed out to see our view.

One problem.

As I was stepping out my pants caught on part of the handle.

Yep, you can guess where this is going.

I ripped my pants.

Right under the butt cheek.

I flew downstairs with Brie and talked to the front desk but of course they don’t have needle and thread and within 10 mins EVERYONE in our trip knew that I had a whole in my pants and they were all asking how it was doing (most embarrassing moment of my life, I think even more so than when I slipped in soup at a homeless shelter my freshman year of high school). Brie and I when to the supermarche (I remember some French) and had an interesting time trying to communicate with the locals in French so I could buy a sewing kit. But I got one and I fixed my pants. 🙂

That night we toured Paris, both the very wealthy and the more bohemian/ hippy part of town. And we got to see Notre Dame.

ImageThis is kind of the back view of Notre Dame, It’s so beautiful on the inside, words cannot describe how gorgeous this is. We were told that the locals were the ones to raise all of the money to build this beautiful place and that it took more than 200 years to build. Can you imagine building something that you would never see completed? I think that would be so hard for me. 

Anyway, by this time it was freezing but our professors (whom we crowned Lord and Lady Duff while in Paris because it seemed better than He and She Duff) took us to what is supposed to be some of the best ice cream in the world (it should be it was like 6 euros which translates to close to $10 but the smallest serving of ice cream ever). From there we walked to the lock bridge which was adorable. 

ImageThe bridge was PACKED with locked in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Some had names on them and other didn’t but it was still adorable to see the love and commitment that these locks represented. 

Apparently you are supposed to place the lock on the bridge and then throw the lock into the river symbolizing your unending love and commitment to one another. We actually saw someone on the street while we were walking by who was placing one there, ADORABLE!

We finally met up with the other group which was so nice because they could show us around Paris in a less tourist way than we would have been (at least they knew where we were wandering to 😉 ). Plus it was great to see my dear friend Becky and the people she’d grown close to on the trip. 

 

 

 

Tower of London

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Why yes, that is the Tower of London in our background which holds more than 1,000 years of history within those walls. This stop was fascinating to me as it’s something I’ve always been interested in seeing. We had about three hours to explore this extensive castle  (which houses about 45 families still we’re told) that has a number of famous names attached to it. It’s within these walls that a number of famous people lived (I believe our tour guide told us Sir Isaac Newton did work here) and were killed (Anne Boleyn, one of the 6 wives Henry the VIII had). I’d always thought of the Tower of London as just a jail cell where famous people stayed before their execution, but there’s more to it than that. This was an incredibly beautiful castle that houses a lot of history and sweet things within it, but it’s also experienced a lot of tragedy like the death of innocent boys who’s bodies were never found and things like that. 

I couldn’t have taken several more hours to look at every square inch of the castle, however, our time was rather limited on Monday (the day before we left for Paris) and our Theology class had to run off to tour John Wesley’s chapel, which was just as interesting. 

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That’s Wesley’s chapel straight ahead and his house (which you can’t really see from this angle) is to the right. The older gentleman taking us on the tour made it a point to tell us over and over again that it was the American Methodists who helped make the renovations to Wesley’s chapel. Without them the chapel would have fallen apart over the years. 

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I did enjoy the tour that we were taken on in the chapel not only because John Wesley played such an important role in church history –particularly Methodist–but because our tour guide great and we got an insight into great church leaders of the day. Plus, look at these church benches that have extenders that pop out (and yes, they work, our tour guide made me sit on one). You think of these great men as powerful and like they have it all together, when in reality Wesley was like 5 foot 5 inches, just a couple inches taller than me and he had a failed marriage (although he didn’t divorce his wife many years of their marriage they lived separately). I think it just goes to show you just how human these great men are, we can’t build people up so much because in reality, we’re all human, we all struggle and God is good to all of us. 

 

After touring his chapel and house we walked across to the cemetery to look at where John Bunyan is buried, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, Wesley’s mother and a number of other people who were either radical in their faith or non believers. It was cool and made for a great end of the day. 

 

After class for the evening Dominic, Brie and I all headed down the bus line for food and wound up at a Greek restaurant that was delicious! So even though we completely failed at getting home on the bus system (I’m convinced that the bus system hates us!!!) We enjoyed spending the evening together and enjoying our company.

 

Good bye London….Helllooooo Paris!

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Well, after four days in London we turn our sights to Paris!!! whoop whoop, the city of love……shame I can’t celebrate with my love and champagne…hmm….it’s the little things right? Anyway, today was a super fun day that I truly did enjoy (I’m starting to believe I have an incredibly weird sense of interest as creepy and gory things like Jack the Ripper and The Tower of London are interesting to me, maybe I should get checked out), however, it’s late, I’m up early so I’ll keep it brief.

Lets just say Dominic, Brie and myself are NOT friends with the bus station. We have had a fail trip every single time we’ve taken the buses. With the exception of one time with Professor John Duff. That’s it.

What did we do to you double Decker? We just wanna be friends!

Anyway, maybe the Paris ones will be better. 🙂

We leave tomorrow morning at 4 a.m. for the station to catch a 7 a.m. underground train to Paris (STOKED….well, not the 4 a.m. part). I’m looking forward to a stamp and the sights…and the chocolate cuz I’m stocking up!

So, I’ll see you in a few days blog, I’ll give you all a full update on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday when I return 🙂 it’s like a mini holiday inside a holiday. 🙂

Much love my friends,

Arianne

The Fence of Love… and Jack the Ripper

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I never thought I’d be talking about Jack the Ripper and love on the same day, or same sentence, however since that’s what I experienced in East London today, I mean, that’s what I’ve got to write about!

This morning we went to our friend Daniel’s church (I think I called him David in my last post, that was a fail) which was called The Good Shepard Mission. I figured it would be a lot like the churches I went to in Belfast last year, formal, stiff, ritualistic –the church was nothing like that. Instead I found myself enjoying the songs that we were singing since I knew most of them. I could relate to the pastor and his message on discipleship, it was great. We all laughed when they started playing “The Star Spangled Banner” when they heard people from America were visiting (the piano guy later played that song about ants going marching one by one when the kids left, but that’s another story). 

What I failed to mention was this wasn’t in an elaborate building built in the 2nd century like it seems like all the other churches were built, it was filled with ornate paintings and have golden ceilings. Instead it was a simple building in The Estates (London’s equivalent of The Projects in the U.S.) in East London just down the road from where Jack the Ripper killed some of his victims (that got gruesome fast didn’t it?). Apparently we actually walked through the area, but I didn’t realize it until later. 

This church was just like the church I go to back home, but they were so involved in the community, they do so much for the poor living there. It’s incredibly inspiring to take that back to the states with you. 

After the church we headed to Old Spitalfields Market which has been going since 1638. It was huge and filled with tons of clothing -mainly like dresses and sweaters and scarves and such for women. But also funky things like a Pac-Man necklace and stamps and yummy bakery goods. I thought it was a fun cultural thing to get involved in. 

We headed back with some of the other people in our group tonight and walked by a chain fence with locks all over them. These locks are supposed to represent a committed love between you and your special someone, or some of them represent you getting married. Either way, they were really cute, so I couldn’t help myself from snapping a couple pictures 🙂 and yeah, I cheated, I was too lazy to upload photos, so I’m borrowing from the internet again. 

 

This is one of the locks that hung on the chain fence where get got off the above ground train in East London, I find it to be one of the cutest things ever. 

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This is an overall view of the gate and the adorableness that adores it!

 

 

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so yeah, after all that we headed to get food and then came back for a time or relaxation before class tonight. Class was so intriguing, and really got me thinking, but, it would take too much space to explain! haha, so I won’t. 

Tomorrow is Tower of London (STOKED) and then we visit John Wesley’s Chapel and his house and a grave site filled with important people in the church history. Then it’s just a few hours until our adventure to Paris begins!

 

P.S. Giggles, I bought part of your present today……