So it’s been a while since I updated everyone on what’s been happening in London, so I’ll start where I left off.
Hugh Grant was shooting a movie in our neighborhood. It was SO cool. He was just a few houses down. Apparently they shoot a lot of period pieces in our neighborhood because all the houses are Victorian. They brought in all these old looking cars and an old fifties-esque double decker bus with adverts for cigarettes on it and whatnot. Way cool.
On our way to Stratford-Upon-Avon we stopped at Robert Dudley’s Estate. He was Queen Elizabeth’s romantic interest, but she chose never to marry. It was HUGE. And mostly in ruins.
Then we headed on our way to Stratford-Upon-Avon where Shakespeare grew up and lived. We visited the farm his mother grew up on and where he lived with his wife and his childhood home. It was so cool. There were actors at his home that you can yell out the name of a play and they act out a scene on demand! I have no idea how they memorize all those lines. We also saw Coriolanus at the Royal Shakespeare Theater. It was actually super boring and I left halfway through to catch up on some sleep.
We were in London the rest of the week which was a nice break. It feels good to be home, the travel takes a lot out of you. We go to the museums and to West-End shows and we walk around the park. One day we woke up and it was suddenly cold outside. It hasn’t warmed back up. Winter is definitely coming. We spent one Saturday at the Tate. I love the Calder’s and the Degas. I’m not much of a fan of the more contemporary art.
We also visited Whitehall Palace in London. Theres only one room that survived a fire. But king Charles I was executed outside of it. He also commissioned Rubens, who painted the beautiful ceilings. I’m actually not a huge fan of Rubens, “Too much wobbling flesh” to quote Queen Victoria from the TV show Victoria (which I’m newly obsessed with by the way) They have beanbag chairs in the room so you can lay and look at the paintings. We went and got strawberries and Belgian chocolate afterwards. Yummm.
We studied the Impressionists recently in my Art History class recently and then went to the Courtald Exhibit to see the paintings in person. All I’ll say is– les impressionnistes ne sont pas mon préféré. I’m just more of a Raphael and Bernini girl myself.
We took a day trip to Hampton Court, where the infamous Henry VIII lived. It was beautiful, obviously all done in the Tudor style. He was really fun to study and learn more about. Read my post here to learn more. We got lost in the maze there.
I found a new treat spot in London. Its inside one of the tube stops on the Northern Line. It’s called Naked Dough, it’s an edible cookie dough bar. It’s AMAZING.
We saw WICKED. It was way better than New York. The British accents just really add an extra element you know? Also Fiero was SUPES hot so that helped too.
We then travelled to Dover! So cool! We went to the fortress that was used in so many different wars (From the invasion of France to WWI and WWII). We saw the palace there and the cliffs of Dover which were incredible. I can understand why the World War II soldiers would get so emotional seeing their cliffs that meant they were home. WE explored the tunnels that the hospital was set up in and the ones where D-Day was planned. Amazing. Shout Out to Ms. Mangone who taught me so much about WWII and made me love the history. It really came in handy on this trip. Unfortunately it was really foggy so we couldn’t see France from here. WE ALSO SAW A HUGE BANKSY. I fan-girled a little bit.
Then we spent time in Canterbury. The cathedral there is really important. The Bishop of Canterbury is to the Church of England as the Pope is to the Catholic church. We went to Evensong again. I still thought it was a little creepy, but no judgement.
On our way home to London we stopped at the London Temple ❤ ❤ ❤ It was so beautiful. I felt right at home. The peace that can be found at temples is unmatched. The spirit was so strong.
We also visited Winston Churchill’s home but I forgot to take any pictures. It was cool nonetheless. 🙂
When we got back to London we went to the British Museum. I LOVE the Elgin marbles, of course. They’re my favorite.
F.R.A.N.C.E or more specifically PARIS!!! My favorite place on earth.
We woke up last Tuesday at 3am for a 4am departure to Kings Cross for a 5:40 train ride across the channel to Paris. I was exhausted but so excited. Because I speak French and know the country pretty well and my passion is the French Revolution (thanks again Ms. Mangone) and I also consider myself a certified Francophile I was dubbed the Paris tour person. I created the perfect Itinerary (in my opinion). They let us run around in our own little groups and do what we wanted. So I made most of the plans for my friends and I.
First thing we did was stop our bags off and head straight to Versailles. I was more excited for this than anything else. I was in heaven.Well, I drank a white Monster and then I was in heaven. We got off the train to Versailles and walked straight to the Golden Gates. We went through the whole house. Then we came to the door of the Hall of Mirrors and my eyes just welled up and then I was totally crying. I’m not really sure what happened. I just really love the Hall of Mirrors, and the French Monarchy and it was just so so so beautiful with the sunlight and I was suddenly just crying. It just really all overwhelmed me because it was so beautiful and it’s my favorite place to be. Someday I want to put on a dress and go when no one is there and dance down the hall. So after the tears stopped I walked in awe and reminisced about when I was there with my family not too long ago. I also pretended to be Marie Antoinette a little bit.
I also had to get Lauduree Macarons the first moment I saw them (which happened to be Versailles).
We then headed back to Paris and walked to the Eiffel Tower. It glittered. Literally. They turned the sparkling lights on. It was pure Magic.
Then we found a restaurant and I ate a Croque Madame and pretty much the best day ever.
The next day we did all the museums. Well most of the art ones. We started early and headed to the Louvre. I love it. I. Love. It. The Greek art. The Renaissance. I just love it. Yes, I saw the Mona Lisa again. That room stressed me out to much to be there for more than a few minutes. Too many tourists.
We ate lunch (a goat cheese sandwich with sun-dried tomatoes YUM) and then walked across the river to the D’Orsay. I love the building. Still not a fan of the Impressionists but its ok. I love Rodin and they had a lot of him.
Then we walked across the river again to the L’Orangarie. We gazed at Monet’s huge water lily paintings. Then we walked along the Champs Elysees. Yes, I stopped at that big Lauduree and got more Macarons. Raspberry is my new favorite. The worker also complimented my french which felt good. Thanks Madame Paladino.
We walked all around L’Arc de Triomph.
Then we found dinner (another goat cheese sandwich of some sort) and went back near our hotel to the Eiffel Tower to watch it sparkle again.
We woke up early the next morning and headed to Sainte Chapelle. It was SUPER foggy which was lame but beautiful all the same. Then we walked across the street to Notre Dame. As lovely as I remember.
Then we toured the Catacombs, but I didn’t take pictures. It doesn’t feel right taking pictures of the dead. We then went and met up with all my friends at the Pompidou. Can’t go wrong there. We got a crepe. The 5th or 6th of the trip. Don’t worry mom, I tried to stop at almost every crepe stand.
Then we went to Sacre Coeur. I’ve never done this before. The Basilica was beautiful! But if I’m honest, I was really disenchanted with Montmartre. It was so yucky and a man grabbed me to try to sell me a bracelet and Le Moulin Rouge is near there and it was gross. No offense Paris. You’re still #1 in my heart. I got really good gelato near there though, in the nicer part of town so its all good.
Friday morning we had to be at the train station to head back to London by 1:30 so we hit the Eiffel Tower once more (it was another foggy day) and then headed to the Opera House, one of my favorite spots in Paris. Still as beautiful as ever.
Basically the best trip of life. We came home and ate Pho to cleanse all the carbs out of our systems. Then we had a big Stranger Things Season 2 watch party. Best week ever.
Yesterday we walked around Portobello Road Market (I ate delicious doughnuts) (and yet none of my pants fit anymore because I’ve lost so much weight walking all around, its a real conundrum).
Today I went to church. It still feels like home and the primary program is closely approaching. Also I’ve apparently unwittingly started to say things with a slight accent. Or my vocal fluctuations have changed or something, I swear its a total accident.
I miss my family. I love my life here. I smile and laugh a lot. We play games and eat yummy food and talk about history and art. I am living the best life imaginable. My friends rock. Thank you to my parents for providing me with this incredible opportunity.