Monday, February 22, 2010

L-O-N-D-O-N!!!!

I saw London, I saw France… well, part of Northern France anyway.

OH MY WORD. My trip to England was EPIC for me! Really, I saw a lot of new things and some things I had seen before, but more than anything I was so excited to spend time with my mom, brother, and Cami. It was so great to see all of them… First, my brother and Cami are just two of my BEST friends, and I loved being around them. I’m a bit bummed that I was pretty sick while I was there, because I can guarantee I was not my fun self and we could have had a bit more fun joking around had I been tip-top shape. However, we DID have fun!

Second, seeing my mom… it was just so great. The first night I got there, my plane had been delayed and customs took FOREVER to get through, and they had all just gotten in a few hours before me, so they were jet lagged like mad. We were all exhausted. However, as we got back to the hotel, my mom and I caught a second wind and stayed up chatting until 4:30am… yea, not the smartest choice in the moment, but it was worth it. It was just SO great to visit with her and see her – loved that most.

So, now is the time I brag about the amazing trip I took to England and show tons of pictures. If you do not wish to hear about my amazing time and will potentially feel a bit of envy, you may stop reading. Otherwise, enjoy – cause I know I did!

I got into London Gatwick Airport on Friday night, and since my plane was so late we had to find a bus back, as the tube was already closed. We found a Night Bus (not to be confused with a Knight Bus, from Harry Potter! Haha… not funny? Ok.) and hopped on to get back to Paddington Station, near the hotel. As the night unfolded its self, my mom and I couldn’t help but show each other all the fun things we had brought to exchange and talk about everything that was going on with us, even though we talk every day –haha! Also, around 3:30am I was SO hungry, I made myself a makeshift quesadilla with some of the tortillas she had brought me… Yea, my dad is awesome. He sent me REAL tortillas –SO amazing… I love Mexican food and the stuff over here is not very authentic – eh! Haha… I wasn’t expecting it to be.

Anyway, moving on!

Saturday morning, after only about two-three hours of sleep we woke up and met Derek and Cami to catch the train and head to Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Bath. Let me start by saying that Stonehenge was way cool to see, but IT WAS FREEZING! I mean, it’s definitely colder in Germany the majority of the time, but it was HORRID up by Stonehenge. Haha! Anyway, I don’t have a lot of the pictures from this day yet because I had to dump them on my mom’s camera – I ran out of room on there. However, I do have some off my brother’s facebook, so I’ll stick some in!


Sidenote: I have a camera again! I’ve been going picture CRAZY since it was placed back into my precious hands… I love it!

So, after Stonehenge and our many crazy photo opts there, we got on out double-decker, red bus and headed to Salisbury to see the Cathedral and grab some grub. Salisbury Cathedral was absolutely beautiful. It was neat to hear about some of the old traditions of priests and bishops there and see all the amazing architecture and stained-glass. I just love old cathedrals – especially the architecture. We spent some time just walking around the city and then grabbed lunch from a random little sandwich shop that was AMAZING, and had to literally RUN to catch our train. We barely made it, but got on and found seats (splitting up, two and two) and ate lunch on the train.

Our train ride led us to Bath! Now, these were all places I had never been to before, which was awesome for me, and I was really excited to see Bath. The city is very resort-like and ritzier than other “outside-the-city” towns, and I loved it. We saw this street show that Cami and I HAD to stop and watch, and Derek joined in too later… This guy was riding a unicycle and juggling fire!!! However, the best part you ask? He was ridiculously funny… so classic! The Roman Baths were way cool to see and it was just relaxing to be there. I took some way cute pictures with my mom there, but I don’t have them yet. I’ll try and get them this week. Here is one from Derek's photos - If you look across the picture on the top level there is a girl in a light blue coat and white hat... Yeap. That's me. As a sidenote, if you ever go and don’t want to listen to really long commentary, listen to the kids commentary numbers instead. Haha! It sounds crazy, but it gives the same info in a condensed and more fun manner. I loved it! Haha…

We walked up to see the Royal Crescent, which was cool, but I think us girls were tired by then and not as into it. So, after that it was getting late (as in 6pm) and our plan WAS to go to where Privet Drive in the Harry Potter movies is located, but we bagged it and went back to go to bed early. We stopped at a local Indian restaurant for dinner before bed though, and it was SO good! Their curry and pan bread was OUT OF THIS WORLD! I have eaten at some other good places, but I think that was my favorite Indian restaurant I have come across thus far. If anyone wants the address, let me know – it’s worth a trip over by Paddington Station.

So, moving on to Sunday… We did not go to church. I know – we’re sinners. Eh. Haha! No, we actually took the time to head to Leavensden Market, which I had never been too, and Camden Market (a place I love and have been to before!). Leavensden Market was cool because no one was there, but it’s way old-fashioned in appearance and was actually they shot some of the Harry Potter, Diagon Alley shots in the first movie. So, we got some good pictures! I guess it’s where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for Diagon Alley too… Yea, we DID do some Harry Potter sight pictures – we’re dorks, and I shall never apologize for that. I love it!


Speaking of HP, we DID stop and get pictures in front of the Platform 9 ¾ sign in King’s Cross Station on the way back because… why not?! Haha… I already had some from before, but I couldn’t resist doing it again.

Anyway, the markets were a lot of fun, though one lady DID try and pick-pocket me… Too bad all my stuff was INSIDE my coat and I gave her a look of pure DEATH. Haha! We found some cute souvenirs for Natalie and Koko, and it was just fun! After the markets, we headed back to the hotel to drop stuff off and eat – we grabbed baguettes at the Station from this great place called Upper Crust (they’re all over) and it was again, superb. Derek and Cami then headed to a Villa futbol/soccer game, while mom and I headed over to my old street by Hyde Park so I could show her where I lived and Kensington Palace. We even met someone else from Utah there, go figure! Haha… We walked through Hyde Park, and then it was getting dark and I was coughing up a storm, so we headed back to the hotel for an early turn-in, but not without chat time together! J

Sidenote: Sunday morning I switched my plane ticket and decided to stay an extra day… Yea, kinda last minute and a little pricey, but it was worth it. SOOOOO worth it!

That night was retched for me… literally. I wasn’t sick to my stomach at all, but I was coughing up so much stuff I just gagged and… yea. Sorry if that is TMI, but it’s the truth. Thus the next day I took things pretty easy, but didn’t regret staying at all because Monday we got up early and caught a train heading to Dover. Dover was suppose to be SO beautiful, but that’s not how I would describe it – though it was way cool. The castle was fun to poke around in, though I felt held back a bit by being sick – eh! I got some awesome photos and even saw France’s coast from there… Crazy! THAT was pretty cool to me… and it was even cooler thinking that this year I would have the chance to go there. It’s just amazing to me the opportunities I will have while being there.

Anyway, my favorite part of the whole time in Dover was seeing the Underground Secret War Tunnels there! I absolutely LOVE anything that has to deal with World War II, and so for me I thought all the info and stuff there was fascinating. We weren’t allowed to take photos in the actual tunnels, but Derek was sneaky and got some – haha! I didn’t even know he was doing it until the very end of the tour – I’m not sure how the pictures turned out, but I’m sure he got SOME good ones. He’s good like that.

So, after time in Dover we walked back to the train station from the castle (we did there and back, and definitely got our workout in for the day – haha!) and all fell asleep on the train back – haha! NOT before the train got stuck on the tracks for a bit though, and we made “Pop Goes the Weasel” and “Throw It on the Ground” videos. Yea… I love my ideas of creativity. I just thought, “I have a camera, and Derek/Cami at my disposal… done.” Haha! It was funny and they WILL be uploaded below… so enjoy! Haha…

When we got back to London, we grabbed a sandwich again for dinner and stopped into the local grocery store to get some cough syrup I could smuggle back to Germany. Haha! However, in the train station I was joking with mom about not seeing me for awhile, which brought on tears from her. I stood there comforting her and holding it in… we both are NOT criers. When we finally got back to the hotel and were eating, I started crying. Haha! It really was good… I can’t explain it, but it was therapeutic almost to just have a “good cry.” I think that is good sometimes, I guess.

Anyway, we talked about everything we were both feeling and how we just missed each other… I don’t think I realized how much I would miss my mom until right before I came over to Germany, and even more so three weeks into being here. It’s weird how it takes leaving to realize what you love the most, but it happens to the best of us.

So, mom and I went to Skype Dad, and then Derek and Cami came over to visit for a little bit before turning in for bed. Well, the other way around, but – eh! Haha… When we came back to our room it was just after 8pm and we knew we had to get up at 3:30am to get me to the bus that would take train that would take me to the airport on time – haha… So, what did we do? Go to bed? Oh, no… we stayed up till 11pm chatting and then finally hit the sack… after eating some Corner’s Yogurt of course. Haha! I tell you, that is the BEST yogurt I have ever eaten… Ever. I love it.

The next morning, mom and Cami walked me to the bus station to catch the Night Bus at 4:22 am… EW. I got to the airport okay though and had a good flight… However, getting back into Germany – phew! I’m glad I got back in! Haha… My visa for working here/living here is in processing right now, so I don’t have papers to carry with me. However, my papers ARE processing… So, when they saw my passport and said, “All looks gut! How long will you be staying here?” and I responded, “Oh, I live here now! For the next year I’m a nanny here,” I really didn’t think it would cause a commotion. They had to have me fill out all this paper work and they reported me to the alien office… It was exhausting because I just wanted to be home in Bonn, and take a nap, and my bad was SO heavy... It was just annoying to deal with. So, next time I’ll be sure to have all my paper work.

What’s my next trip, you ask? Well, I’m going to Davos, Switzerland in three weeks from now with the family for a skiing/snowboarding week getaway. I’m SO stoked for that because I hear it’s SO beautiful there and a lot of fun. I’m also planning to meet up with my third cousin and his family, whom I have never met, in Holland! My father has been in contact with him for years via email and Skype and I just started emailing him since I knew I’d been in Europe. Well, he contacted me back and said we could go to the tulip festival together if I wanted. Of course I do! So, in April I’m going to be heading to Holland for a few days to see the tulip festival in Keukenof and check out Amsterdam. It’s going to be amazing! I’m really itching to go to Paris, so I was thinking of doing that in May… but I hear it’s better in Fall and Sam might actually be able to go with me in November… we’ll see! Perhaps May’s trip will be Rome… or Venice? We’ll see! :)

On a totally new topic, for just a moment, I don't know how many of you have seen the footage of Madeiras, Portugal, but they have been having some CRAZY experiences this past week with massive flooding and mudslide. If you were unaware, this is the place that my best friend, Sister Ray, is serving her mission and is currently living. If you look at the video below, her street is shown at the 1:12 mark... She is fine, but it's a bit crazy there. I'll leave an exert from this week's letter from her and ask everyone to PLEASE keep her and the people of Madeiras in their prayers - It would mean a lot to them, and to me.


"
Madeira has been hit by a series of super heavy storms that it was not prepared for. As a result all of the drainoff Ribeiras have overflowed, and flooded a large part of the city, as well as taking out a whole lot of houses in the poorer regions. We also happen to be on an island that is just mountains, so there are a whole lot of landslides and mudslides which have covered and-or taken out of the roads on the whole island. It is pretty rough in a lot of places, but we have enough water to last us a while. We didn´t have electricity for two days, and we still don´t have running water, but it will be okay. We actually live in one of the worst parts because we are right in the middle of the two main drain-rivers so we are still without water, but a lot of people already have water again. We were able to shower at a members house, and if needs be we can kick the Elders out for a couple of hours- the part of Funchal where they live doesn´t have problems. They actually canceled church today and we just went around helping people try and dig out their houses or get things out of their house before it collapsed. Kinda reminded me of tornado clean up....except with a whole lot of mud and huge boulders everywhere, really you would think we were back in a third world country. It is absolutely crazy, but really an eye opening experience. We are starting to understand better some of the passages from Revelations.

Today we were able to bring water to some people who didn´t have any ( I know, like anyone wants any more water after being flooded for three days and the whole island falling into the ocean), and it was actually pretty funny. No one had water, and we heard that one store was open, so we went and managed to buy 18 5-liter bottles of water. The problem then became how to move that between the two of us. Well, as I have lots pretty much all fear and shame on the mission, I asked the security guy if we could use the cart to get home and then we would bring it back. Well, the benefit of being in a little place is that he said yes. So, there we were pushing our grocery cart full of water bottles down the streets that are completely flooded with mud, trees and boulders in the rain (yup, still was raining, luckily not so bad). It was pretty funny actually- that little cart was durable, it made it all the way down the mountain (it took both of our weight to keep it from running away, but we managed.) When we got it back later it was super funny to see it in the line with the rest looking like it had lived through a war. We also were able to help evacuate a family from their house, which is going to fall into the RIbeira any second.We only have one member of the church who was injured and it was the house we were helping to try and evacuate today. Their house is the only house ruined I think, but her husband was in the hospital since half the house collapsed and he was hurt. Unfortunately, there isn´t a whole lot we can do to help the majority of the people. They won´t leave their houses even though they are in super dangerous situations, I think they don´t believe it could happen, even though the majority of houses are trashed all around them, if they still exist. President has told us that this whole week will just be service pretty much so we are trying to help people get their lives back in order. Pray that we don´t have too much rain in the near future. It is supposed to start up again in a couple of hours, so we will see what happens. Who knew that our little island would make it to world news!"

*muah*

Song of the Day: You know, I wasn’t sure what song to suggest here because I have come across so many good ones lately. However, I think in honor of my many adventures I am having and about to have, I will chose a song that does this time in my life justice… It’s from the A Bug’s Life here is Randy Newman singing, Time of Your Life. Enjoy the song, and enjoy this time in YOUR life! :)


2 comments:

Mindy said...

1. Bath looks dirty. I wouldn't bathe there. ;)

2. ANYTHING with the word "secret" in it is bound to be cool. And this one didn't fail either.

3. A little bit jealous about your European adventures. And by a little bit, I mean a lot. The end. :)

Ash and Matt said...

London looks amazing!!! Ditto Mindy's #3.