The past few weeks have been some of the best of my life!!! I’ll pick up where I left off in my 29 October post.
Ok so HARRY STYLES LIVE IN LONDON. The hair, the old-school-style rock, the custom Gucci suits. All of the above were part of the experience. I went with 3 of my friends and we got Mexican food before. Yum. Then we walked across the street from the tube station and saw the marquee at the Evintim Apollo Theater in London. We got in this Huge line to get into the venue that wound all the way down the street. Then after we got inside we bought sweatshirts (with harry’s name on them duh). He opened by playing my favorite song from his album, Ever Since New York (very Fleetwood Mac-ish) He was wearing a gold custom Gucci Suit. Swoon. Every moment was joy. He really likes to ask how everyone is doing and if everyone is having a good time and asks everyone to love one another and spend a night being themselves without being judged. All good things. He played two One Direction songs but totally redid them to they sounded more like his solo stuff. He also did a cover of Ariana Grande’s Just a Little Bit of Your Heart” which HE wrote. And BOYYYYYYY it was amazing. He also played Kiwi and like 5 songs later everyone chanted “Kiwi! Kiwi! Kiwi!” and he was all “Who am I not to play it again for you?” and so he did it again and we jumped all around and danced and it was just bliss.
The following day we went to the Wallace Collection. I’ve been but it was really cool to go after learning about the Georgian art. I’ve discovered I’m a fan of Rococo. Also they had a Spanish art exhibit with an El Greco. I loved it. ALSO PORTRAIT OF YOUNG VICTORIA. I AM OBSESSED WITH HER. I watched the first season of Victoria on Amazon and I just want my own Albert and to be her.
That day was also Halloween so we all dressed up and ate halloween dinner (Shrimp chowder) out of pumpkins and the staff decorated the house and the tables and it was so so so fun. Then we played the game we made up and are going to leave for London Centre Posterity and it was just such a good time.
The next day we went to Oxford! Dad, It was like walking around in an episode of Endeavour!!! It was so beautiful. We sat through a lecture by a religion professor on religion in England and then we took a tour of the campus (saw where some scenes in Harry Potter were shot, way cool) and then my friend Ian helped show us around. We went to this way cool book shop that’s extraordinary and old and iconic and wow it knocked my socks off and took my breath away and all that jazz. The amount of books they had was amazing. Ian also took us to this little pub where Tolkien and his writer buds ate and drank and discussed. It’s called the Eagle and Child. We sat where they would have sat and drank these lemon drinks (think Shirley Temples but with lemon rather than cherry). It was so cool.
That same day we drove to Windsor Palace and WOAH. I love it. They had a collection of so many Titians. SO MANY. Also it was breathtakingly beautiful. I finding that my breath is taken away quite a lot here. I also think I want to be a member of the royal family. I’ll need some creative solutions so if you think of anything send it my way. The chapel there had one of the most beautiful memorials I’ve ever seen dedicated to Prince Albert (*swoon x2*) and the Notorious Henry VIII is buried there. It was beautiful.
The rest of the week was nice and relaxing. We went to the British Library and saw all these amazing documents. I saw handwritten letters of Raphael (yes my favorite renaissance painter… THAT Raphael) and pages from the notebooks of DaVinci and letters from Queen Victoria denouncing feminism (boo, her only flaw I’ve yet to find) and the Lindisfarne gospels and the Tyndall bibles and original copies of Martin Luther’s 95 thesis and the original lyrics of Beatles songs they had written on napkins and birthday cards and so forth. It was so cool. Then we had to race home from that to try and buy Hamilton tickets. Which we got. FOR OPENING NIGHT. So pumped.
On Saturday I slept until 12:30pm and it was so relaxing because I haven’t been sleeping super well and I was a little sick. I get sick a lot here because we’re all in close quarters and its hard to get sleep when you’re sharing space with 11 other people but its okay. Anyways, I woke up and got all cute (I’ll discuss why later) and I went and got Pho, I eat a LOT of Pho here, what’s new. And then I went to the Victoria and Albert museum. We walked there through the park and Ian took us through the scenic route. It was long but man was it so so so incredibly beautiful. Everything is just beautiful here. We stopped in the Hyde Park Chapel visitors center and talked to the sisters there. It was nice. Then we walked a few buildings down to the Victoria and Albert museum and it is so magnificent. They have everything there. Clothing and Pre-Renaissance art and also rooms with huge Raphaels and wonderful Marble pieces and facades and it was just the most perfect “pre-birthday” celebration day. My friends Abby and Kate and I all have birthdays right next to one another, and since on my birthday everyone would be dispersing for various countries on Travel week we decided to celebrate with a Tri Birthday Party. So we went out for Indian food and little did I know Karelia, the most wonderful friend had spent all day scouring bakeries all over London for cakes and candles and invited the whole centre to a little celebration with our favorite games and cakes for all three of us. She made it so special. I’m so blessed. I laughed and smiled a lot that night.
Also CAITRIN’S MISSION CALL!!!! Wooooo! Off to Peru!!! I love you and it was so fun staying up to see where you’re meant to serve!
The next day we had Stake Conference!!! It was so nice not having to worry about sharing time lol. We walked to the Hyde Park Chapel through the park and it was cold but so pretty. It made me feel really blessed to be here in England. I love my Savior and I love this gospel. Then we ate leftover birthday cake for lunch.
Monday was a low key day. Class and then mostly packing. And studying for our Religion exam.
Tuesday was my birthday!!! It made me realize that I have the best family and friends on earth. I woke up and found the whole bathroom decorated by my friends sometime after I had fallen asleep the night before. They had also gone to get blueberry muffins (my favorite breakfast) and diet coke so I could have it for breakfast. I aced my exam and I was surprised with Flowers from my parents and Ladureé Macarons from Kylee. Then I ate Birthday cake for lunch and we headed to the airport. We were off to ROME! I am so so so blessed. After we landed we got settled and headed to the Trevi fountain and ate pizza and gelato. I had the most wonderful birthday. Thank you for all the wishes and to my parents who have given me the most wonderful 20 years and for my friends who made it so special.
The Next day we woke up early and headed to the Vatican Museum. I had forgotten just how amazing the art collections that the Vatican has are. Also the Sistine Chapel is even more glorious when there’s hardly anyone there and you have the space to sit and look up at it for as long as you wish. The art in Italy had me walking on sunshine. The Raphaels. Oh my. The Academy. And the ancient Grecian art. It was just so wonderful. I haven’t even gotten to the Basilica.
Then we got lunch (and more importantly cannoli). Yum. Then off to St. Peter’s Square. Bernini. Ah you genius, Bernini. I’d forgotten how much I love Rome. Also the Berninis inside the basilica are so amazing. AND RAPHAEL’S PIATA. I forgot. It was incredible.
Then we walked all around the Travestere and got delicious pasta and I made everyone stop at every church just to prove that every single one is so beautiful. It was awesome.
The next day. THE. BORGHESE. GALLERY. So we all know I love Bernini more than any other artist ever to exist. And most know the Borghese already has the most beautiful Bernini’s to exist (Apollo and Daphne, The Rape of Porsephina) but we arrived outside the gallery for our scheduled time (9am) and THEY HAD AN ENTIRE EXTRA BERNINI EXHIBIT!!!!! They had found all the most wonderful Bernini’s scattered throughout the world and put them in one glorious museum that I was already ecstatic to be visiting again. Providence is all I’ll say about that. I stood in front of Apollo and Daphne and the Rape of Porsephina for a good 10 minutes each. And then I circled around as many times as possible to see all the Bernini. All my dreams came true on that day.
After the Borghese (sadly we needed to progress with our day, I could have stayed and looked at the Bernini’s forever) and we headed to the Colosseum. It’s such a profound part of an ancient history. It speaks volumes of the technology and culture that the ancient romans harbored. We did the Rick Steves tour obviously. Thanks Rick (and Caleb) for leading us all around Italy.
Then we walked to a (Rick Steves recommended) restaurant and I ate more pizza and I ordered 2 diet cokes (which practically cost your soul in Europe) and it was good food and good company and Italy so what more can you really ask for. Well, gelato is what you could ask for so we went and got some. Then we walked to the Roman Forum and by that time it started to drizzle which was actually so beautiful. The rain made it feel even more magical, and we all know I adore the rain. I felt really at peace at the forum in the rain, with my rain coat and my ballet flats and Rick Steves telling me about what ancient Rome would have been like through my headphones and the ruins of a great civilization all around me. It makes me excited to go back and show it to the people that I love all over again.
We walked around Rome and saw all the cool stuff. Then Caleb kindly lead us on the recommended Rick Steves night tour. By the time it was dark it was raining a lot harder. But it was okay, it was just fun to be in Italy with my friends. It made it more of an adventure, even if my feet are still stained black from the dye in my ballet flats (I can practically hear Alan’s eye roll at my shoes) and I was non-stop shivering . We walked to the Piazza Navona, and saw Bernini’s fountain of four rivers. It’s massive and beautiful. There’s also a hugely magnificent Borromini church right by there (the irony kills me) that we stepped into. We walked to the Pantheon and I payed homage to Raphael at his grave there. Then we stopped at the Trevi fountain. We got dinner and I ate the Lobster Pasta. Yum.
Then I went to bed after a scalding shower to get the freezing rain out of my soul.
The next morning I packed up because a few of us were heading to Venice for less than 24 hours. I kept it low key and met some friends at a church I was dying to see, because it housed a Bernini that my mom loves, Ecstasy of St. Theresa. It was magnificent. We church hopped to two other churches I wanted to visit. It was really fun to walk through the city, on my way to meet my friends because I got to walk around (with Taylor Swift’s new album blaring in my ears obviously) and taking in the city. Those was probably some my favorite moments in Italy. We saw another Borromini church that slightly reminded me of LDS temples, because it was simple and beautiful and white and so incredibly different than other baroque churches being built at the same time. Then we went to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which was extremely extravagant. And I didn’t know this before going in, but upon reading the wiki page for the church that BERNINI WAS BURIED THERE. So of course I’m looking at all the extravagant graves with huge marble memorials and I can’t find it until my friend points out a small step and there it is, so simple and lovely. It was the coolest thing. Then we grabbed paninis for lunch and hopped on a train headed to Venice.
When we arrived in Venice we checked into the Hotel and we went and got dinner. I ate more pizza. Then we walked over to St. Marks square and saw the basilica all lit up. It was nice because it was late enough that no one was around. Venice is SOSOSO beautiful. Probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. It’s so small and the streets are alleyways that wind through the canals. It’s unlike any western European city I’ve ever seen. There’s so much byzantine influence, and yer there’s a renaissance flair written all over it. It was so unique.
The next morning we woke up and headed to Doge’s Palace. Its called a palace but Venice never really had a monarchy like how we think of them today. It was always really democratic and so the palace was more of a government building and the Doge, or like their president lived there. It was SOOO beautiful. Unlike any other palace I’ve EVER seen. ALSO. I was peacefully eating my cannoli and a BIRD LANDED ON MY HEAD AND STOLE IT OUT OF MY HANDS. SO MEAN. The birds in Italy suck man. I was so mad. Then we shopped around and ate lunch and headed (on a boat) to the airport to fly home to London. By the end of the day I was happy to be home.
Overall, Venice is the most beautiful place on earth and I loved Italy even more the second time around. It was so wonderful to do it with my friends.
Today I woke up and went to church. Its remembrance Sunday, so at 11 am the whole country has a moment of silence to remember WWI. We all wore our poppy pins. We also got new bishopric councilors today, so as you can imagine it was quite emotion for the ward. It felt like one of those Sundays that everyone in the ward is brought a little closer together. We have two weeks until the primary programme, so pray for me and my primary kids so we can do a good job!
I feel so happy all the time. I am forever grateful for this opportunity and all the people I have met as a result.
Still forever grateful to my parents.