Sunday, February 28, 2010

WALES. my homeland.

I am a little proud of myself right now as it has been less than a week and I am already updating you. That was a joke… but seriously. I am not proud of myself for only posting once a week as I am often finding myself doing more and more lately but I am finally posting which is a plus. I like to think of my life as hectic but I really have a lot of spare time that mostly gets devoted to hours wasted on the black hole, formally known as facebook. I am also, as I know I have previously stated a professional procrastinator. I think the only reason I write every so often is to keep my family entertained because of my lack of cellular device and communication on my part. If anyone else reads this… let me know so I don’t feel like I am just boring my loved ones.

So now on to the good stuff…
Tuesday was a good and calm day, like my whole week had been so far. I had class at 8:45 until 10:45 and then again at noon. Around 1:45 I went with my civ. Class to the Victoria and Albert Museum. This is by far my favorite museum. We only spend about an hour there but I am going back as soon as I have a free afternoon. After visiting my favorite section, the vintage fashion section, Jenny, Katie, Britin and I went the most adorable ribbon shop called V. V. Rouleaux. It happens to be where the costume designers went to get all the ribbon to make the beautiful and elaborate designs for the film, Young Victoria. If you have not seen this film yet, you must! When I brought the ribbon I picked out to the measuring desk I asked if I was able to just get three fourths of a meter and the woman working looked at me like I was an idiot. She then said, “You mean three quarters of a meter?” This is not the first time that my American accent and the way I say things has made me feel a little on the dumb side.
Me Jenny Britin and Katie at V.V. Rouleaux!
Tuesday night was spent passed out in my cozy corner bed. I am turning into an old lady.

Wednesday was a bore. I honestly cannot recall a single thing I did so I had to look on my flat mate’s blogs to figure out how I spent my day, pathetic I know but that’s what I get for not taking any pictures all day. After some research on my day I remembered that I went to the Imperial War Museum to see the Holocaust exhibit and at night we went to see Twelfth Night. It was very funny but our seats were at the very top of the theater and it was steamy hot because of the amount of people packed into that tiny space. Very boring day, not much to say and yes that was a tiny poem not meant to be one.

This week was the half way point of my stay here in the greatest city in the world. Very sad to think that in a short month and a half or so I will be on a plane back to where I came from. But honestly I am excited to go home. I mean I am only half way through my program here and it has felt as if I have been here for a year.

Thursday morning we awoke at the early hour of five. Yes, yes I Macy Falke woke up at five, and you thought eight was early for me. The reason for this loss of three hours of sleep was that we were going to Wales!! I was excited to get back to my roots, haha. Our first stop after what seemed like the longest four hour drive ever, was Tintern Abbey. This place of almost ruins was beautiful. We walked around and I took about ten minutes to myself to just reflect on things.

After our short stay there we then drove to the “Bit Pit” coal mine. Oh yeah you heard me right, a coal mine, hilarious! “Cough cough, I think I’m getting the black lung Pa… cough cough merman” –Zoolander. We went down into the mine and toured where, until 1980, the Welsh mined for coal. Our tour guide of the mine had worked in mines his whole life. “Hi ho hi ho it’s off to work we go…”

Our next stop was my favorite of the day. We went to St. Fagan’s Museum of Welsh life, the “Columbia” of welsh life for those of you who are from California and know what that is. St. Fagan’s is a 100 acre representation of what old Welsh life was like. We walked a little ways through the little town and then to the manor house. It was beautiful with gorgeous gardens, fountains and ponds.

Once our two hours were up there we drove to Cardiff, where we were staying for the night. We were assigned roommates for the night and I was paired with Jen. She is a doll and I was happy to be her roommate. Maddy, Jen, Tori, Karli, Eliza and I went to a little pub for dinner and I had fish and chips. Then I came back to a steamy shower and luxurious queen bed for the night. I slept like a baby.

Friday started off with chocolate croissants and a coach ride to Caerphilly Castle. Audrey, Caitlin, Emma and I had fun walking around and using our time for a photo shoot as we usually do at most places.

I know just how much you love the videos of my little friends here so here is another one. I think it's quite funny.

video

Our next coach ride was really long so I took a nap and woke up with the worst pain in my neck. That’s what I get for not having a neck pillow. The rest of our day was spent going to various English church history sites. We were taken to Hill Farm, Herefordshire Beacon, and Gadfield Elm Chapel. We had a lovely tour guide named Peter Fag who told us all the things to know about the places we visited. The most memorable part of our little history lesson was when we were at the chapel. Sweet sweet Susan got up and instantly started crying, creating waterfalls of tears on each of our faces, she then requested that we should sing “The Spirit of God”. It was one of the most touching moments I have had here, being in the same chapel where the early saints of Britain would meet and where many Prophets have stood. I am so thankful for my foundation in the church laid out by my parents and grandparents. I honestly don’t know where I would be if they had not joined the church.


Saturday I slept in, lovely! Then after a short work out and shower Audrey, Caitlin, Emma, Jenny and I headed to my favorite spot in London, Borough Market! After eating two ostrich burgers on previous visits to the market I thought it was about time to try something new for lunch so I had the amazing yellow curry that I have tasted every time and it was delicious! I then proceeded to empty out my wallet a whole twenty pounds on yummy fruit, truffles, Turkish delight and a loaf of rye bread bigger then my head. I did not plan on buying bread but the gorgeous man at the stand had other plans for that five pounds.

Emma and I with our delicious Malaysian Curry
My heaven will have a Borough Market in it.

We then, went to the London Aquarium. It was such a joke, but this is coming from a girl that is used to the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium. It literally had a section on the fish that live in the River Thames, ew. There was also one shark tank that they had you walk by about ten times throughout the walk through from different angles. If you are in London and want to see fish, stick with the kind that comes on a dinner plate, that kind will actually be worth your money. The best part of the Aquarium was walking out to see Big Ben and Parliament.

I will never get sick of seeing this...
Cheers!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

six lonely girls.

Yesterday I decided because of my late late night I would sleep through breakfast, I woke up around eleven just in time for my Shakespeare class. After class I went and finally signed up at a close by gym, LA fitness. It is the nicest gym I have ever been too and I am very excited to get back on a cycling bike! We had tacos for dinner and I was happy because I, trying to be frugal, didn’t go to Tortilla for lunch. We went to get waffles and then see Valentine’s Day after dinner! I absolutely loved the movie; besides a little part at the end (if you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about). It was nice to have a night out with the roommates! Something we realized that it is really hard to not have boys around and watching several gorgeous men on the film screen was not very good for six lonely girls.
All I need right now is a hug... and preferably from this adorable man. Demi I am envious of you! He was the most adorable thing in Valentine's Day. sorry no pictures of yours truly today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

a whole week in one post.

Monday and Tuesday were recovery days from my travels last weekend. I literally did nothing while I stayed in sweats all day, and I loved every second of it. I feel like we go go go and I needed that time to myself.
On to Wednesday, it was probably my favorite day trip we have taken. Firstly we stopped off at a beautiful palace called Blenheim Palace where the Churchill’s once lived and where I don’t remember which but a Duke lives now. We had a tour of the state apartments and rode out on a golf cart to the Pleasure Gardens. Weird name I know… but I believe it’s named that because there are fun things to do in the gardens. I walked through the butterfly house alone because everyone was scared. I was brought back to my childhood of chasing after butterflies for house and wanting to be an entomologist while butterflies landed on my head. We then hopped back on the coach and were early for once!

I thought I would share this little treat with you... this is Daniel Cooper. He's one of a kind. video



We then drove a few minutes to my favorite place so far, Oxford! I absolutely, whole heartedly love this town. We disembarked the coach and began our exploration of the quaint little town. We started off by peaking in a pub called the Eagle and Child, where C.S Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien would meet and discuss their thoughts.
We then walked around and saw some of the amazing sights Oxford has to offer, many of them being shown in the Harry Potter movies.
After sightseeing for a little while we walked to the covered market and got a cookie from the first Ben’s cookies. For some reason, that was probably just in my mind, my cookie was more delicious than ever! Being the starving students we are…hahaha, we then walked over to the English treasure, Moo Moo’s! Moo Moo’s in the most amazing milk shake stand. I had a Kinder Bueno shake that was, I dare to day even better than the shakes at the fair’s milk barn… yes that good!
Best Milkshake I have ever had! At 3:15 we met up with our group again to tour one of the colleges in Oxford, Christ’s Church. We then had the privilege of having high tea in the “Great Hall” of Hogwarts! Although there were no levitating candles and the ceiling did not show the sky it was an amazing experience, and the hot cocoa was some of the best I have yet to partake of! We then had a Q&A with a BYU graduate who is attending Oxford and after headed home. Once we were home a few of us decided that in honor of our day we would watch the first Harry Potter and the whole movie we were pointing out things we had seen that day. If I wasn’t a huge Harry Potter fan before, I am now… and not just because the famous wizard and I share the same birthday.
Caitlin and Me in the "Great Hall" of Hogwarts.
Eating High Tea in the "Great Hall"
The Fab 5 at Christ Church College.
I swear half of our outings have movies attached to them. Thursday we took a tube ride and a short walk to Middle Temple. Some of you may recognize this area from the movie/book The Di Vinci Code. We toured the chapel and then had a fancy luncheon in the great hall of Middle Temple. Our main course and pork medallions and “squeak and bubble” which I am guessing were mash and string beans because that was what accompanied the meat. After lunch we, being the true divas of flat 4 went to Starbucks and then took a taxi to Charles Dickens house. I think it was one of the smartest things we have done so far as it was raining and it was quite a walk and for one pound each taxis might be my new favorite way of travel. Dickens house was honestly a joke to me, the center paid six pound each for us to see some old furniture and watch a forty five minute film that I am sure we could have rented somewhere. I then came home and the rest of the evening was left to my Shakespeare paper. Being the professional procrastinator I am, I did not get more than a few sentences done all night.
Because of my procrastination Friday morning was dedicated to, I swear, one of the hardest papers of my life. I literally felt brain dead I could not think of a single thing to write so I have decided that Shakespeare is not for me. Once my essay was finally turned in and I could relax a little we went as a group to a Muslim mosque. We sat through one of their five-time daily prayers and had a tour/discussion with the leader of education, Omar. This sounds terrible of me but I am so sick of going to churches. I, unlike some of the members of our group who grew up in Utah have been exposed to other religions and this is not really anything new to me just because I am in London. I think all the cathedrals and beautiful but after seeing about twenty they all start to look the same. Okay, thank you for letting me vent. I think some of my frustration has come from my stupid sinuses that have decided to start acting up and getting stuffy. We were starving after the mosque so we went to Giraffe, where I had a good old fashioned hamburger with my ever present barbecue sauce. Jenny and I then went to Boots to get all kinds of medication to try and get us feeling better.

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful sight. It was the first day that I have not had to wear an overcoat which I was extremely happy about! I spent the morning sleeping in, taking a shower and for once spending a little time on getting myself pretty. Audrey, Emma, Jenny and I then went to Portobello Market, which is conveniently located a few blocks from our humble abode. I had been to the market in the rain but on a gorgeous day like it was made it ten times more amazing… and crowded. One of my favorite stores here has to be Cath Kitson, and I made my first purchase there Saturday. RAIN BOOTS!! I have been needing some very badly as all of my other shoes get soaked when it rains and I walk around with cold soggy feet all day. I am so excited for them!!
I also ate a wonderful crepe made by an authentic French woman. It was delicious and I regret not bringing my camera with me to take a picture… I guess that means I will have to go get another to photograph! After coming home and relaxing for a hot second Jenny and I along with a bunch of the other girls and Kellen went to dinner at Zizzi’s Italian restaurant for our friend Sarah Shepherd’s birthday. She is such a doll! I had the tasty red pesto that I am going to miss so much when I leave London. After dinner we came home for cake and it was off to bed, or in my case off to my little corner to watch Phantom of the Opera on my lap top. I love nights to myself!
The Birthday girl and myself!
Jerry and Me.




Sunday, as they always are here, was stressful. I honestly am getting sick of making the hour and a half trip to my ward and this week was even worse. As I always do in before we leave, I checked online to see if there are any delays on our journey and just as usual there were plenty. Our first tube had severe delays and our ending train station just happened to be having engineering work going on so it was closed. Heavenly Father must be trying to teach me patience. We ended up taking two tubes a train a bus and quite a long walk in the pouring rain without umbrellas all before church. When we finally arrived at the chapel, late, we taught out not very prepared lesson. I thought we would take most of the time introducing each other and playing get to know you games but after about five minutes our small class of four was ready for their lesson. To my surprise it wasn’t all that bad but there was no discussion and I feel like no one cared about what we were teaching them. After church I took my usual “waste the rest of the day away” nap which was much needed. Then we had dinner and a great fireside given by President Phillips of the Hyde Park stake. He talked about knowing yourself and how Christ ultimately knew exactly who he was which enabled him to perform the Atonement. I then had the greatest skype date with my family; I don’t think I went a minute without laughing. Because of my exceedingly long nap I was not a bit tired when it came to bed time. So I had a few other skype dates with friends from school, a snack, spend about two hours on YouTube (who does that), and around 5 am I was finally tired. Since this post is going to be probably the longest I have done I will wait until tonight to update on today!
Cheers!

as i sit in my cozy little bed...

I know this is weird of me to admit, especially as I am living in one of the most amazing cities in the world but... I miss my little towns of Rexburg and Turlock. But most of all I miss these people...

wish you were here.

be my valentine.

I know it’s late but Happy Valentine’s Day!!
We all got back to the center Saturday night around midnight and weren’t really prepared for church the next day. But being the righteous latter day saints we are, Emma Maddie and I woke up at seven and headed for ward conference. Boy was it an interesting meeting. The gospel is the same, and still true but the way things are ran here in the church are very different. In our sacrament meeting the Stake President asked one of the newly baptized members to say her testimony… She proceeded to get up and tell us how she was not sure when she first learned about the church if she should come or not. She then told us about how the first time she attended a meeting she saw Jesus and his Angels above the pulpit. Needless to say is was an interesting meeting indeed. Going to church here makes me so thankful for the Church at home. In Turlock I am a seven minute drive from our chapel. In Rexburg I am literally across the street from where I go to church and the Temple. Here in London I am an hour and thirty minute trek by tube, train and foot to the Catford Ward. I know that I attend church in a different stake than where the center is located but it makes me think of those people in countries where the nearest meeting house is hours away. I am so grateful for the church in my life and parents that are worthy church members.

After church we came home and started on dinner. I then took a shower and came out to a beautiful bouquet of daisies and a cookie and doughnut (I was spoiled) from my valentine, Audrey. After dinner we had a fun Valentine’s Day party planned. We played a “couples in history” game, decorated homemade delicious sugar cookies and had a little dance party upstairs. I also enjoyed opening a package from my family. Thanks for the leggings, shoes, M&M’s, the sweet note and other fun things. I love you Mom, Dad, Ab and Ky!
The Flat 4 Divas.
calvin loves kisses.

emma and i. my valentine was a sugar cookie. and it was delicious!

ciao!

374 pictures.
200 Euros.
6 gelatos.
5 best friends.
3 days.
countless memories to last a lifetime.
i love my life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

roma continued.

I have been neglecting to right because everything I start I am in my bed and somehow I always seem to doze off into a deep slumber, hence me finally writing about the rest of Rome. Friday we woke up fairly early to snow… snow in Rome.
We ate breakfast at the hotel which was quite amazing for a hotel breakfast. We had to walk up about seven flights of stairs to get to the terrace but the view was so worth it. Note: Croissants in Italy are fifty times better than in the states. We then headed off for the Vatican! Vatican City is beautiful and it holds so much history. In high school I went to Catholic camp with my friend Angie and so it was nice to have some knowledge about how the Catholic Church works. It was also cool to me because I am such an Angels and Demons fan to see where it was filmed. We first went to St. Peter’s Basilica, walked through it and admired the wonderful complex architecture and all the many things St. Peter’s holds. We then walked and waited in a, what seemed like, mile long line in the snow to get into the Musei Vaticani. While in the museum we saw many pieces of artwork and beautiful buildings but my favorite was the Sistine Chapel.
The chapel was a lot bigger than I thought it would be but it was just as beautiful as I pictured it. We spend about half an hour there waiting for Jenny and Jake to come through… somehow we missed them both and after a while we decided to go look for them. Jenny being the extremely smart girl she is looked for us at the café where we just happened to be going down to. Jake on the other hand was never found. We looked and waited for about an hour and a half and then decided to go ahead because we would eventually find him at the hotel.
Audrey, Me and Jenny. We walked down from the Vatican a few streets and found the most amazing hole in the wall pizza place. I had a cut of margarita pizza that they fold in half to almost make a sandwich. It was easily the greatest piece of pizza I have ever had in my life.
We then walked to the Pantheon. On the way there we stopped for a few pictures at the four season’s fountain but sadly it had scaffolding all over it and was closed for maintenance. When we got to the Pantheon I was completely amazed. It is so dark and almost cold looking on the outside but bright and inviting on the inside. The Pantheon is a church dedicated to all of the gods… very sac-religious but beautiful none the less it is architecturally perfect. After we went to a small shop and all ate some gelato and then went to finally find Jakeypoo. When we met up with him at the hotel we all headed for dinner at a very Romanesque eatery called La Taverna dei Mercanti. I have really good spaghetti with homemade noodles. We again called it an early night because we were exhausted.

Saturday we checked out after breakfast at the early hour of nine in the morning and we were immediately off for our day. It was our last day in Rome and we got a lot done. The only set back was that stupid me brought a suitcase on rollers instead of the backpacks that everyone else did. This made it very hard for me to walk everywhere but I was a trooper. We named my suitcase R2D2 and he was a great companion for the day. We first went to the Colosseum and then to the Forum. They are both beautiful places and it amazes me how someone back then could build something that would last until today. After seeing both places we went back to the train station, then on a bus which lead us to the airport. A quick flight and we were finally home.
Jenny me and Emma at the Colosseum.

Audrey and I taking a seat on R2D2.

I loved Rome but nothing beats the feeling of coming home.

Monday, February 15, 2010

roma.

Wednesday was so calm during the day, night is another story. We had class in the morning and then everyone slowly started to trickle off to go on their extended weekend trips. Our flight to Rome didn’t leave until six the next morning so we basically had our huge house to our selves. We took showers and got all packed up to go. We ate subway for lunch and kebabs for dinner because we weren’t provided with any meals for the day. We left for the airport around ten at night and got there around eleven thirty. Jenny, Emma, Audrey, Jake, Caitlin and I then had about six hours to kill until we could check in and go through security. Caitlin and I ended up staying up all night walking around the airport, eating snacks and getting online to write people poems. Before we knew it, it was time to finally go through security. A short but painful two hour flight later we landed in Rome! It is literally the most beautiful city I have ever been in. London is amazing but it has nothing to compare to the elaborate basilicas and long standing ruins that are here. Once we landed we went on a bus that leads us to the metro where we got on another bus. We got on the right bus but missed our stop so we had to ride it in a whole circle to get back to where we wanted to be. Normally I would be frustrated with this but it gave us a chance to see the city and it is beautiful! I have seen so many pictures of this place in text books and things from history classes but I never thought that I would actually be experiencing it for myself. Once we got in the area we needed to be we went to see the Trevi Fountain, which is conveniently located around the corner from our hotel.
Trevi Fountain.
video
I paid 2 euros for this stupid picture. dang romans.
We then ate a quick lunch at our first real Italian restaurant. I ordered a margarita pizza with a coke and it was divine. I have never has such wonderful pizza, the Italians sure know what they are doing here.
Our new friend at lunch.
After lunch we walked to try and find our hotel, which we still had not checked into yet and after about an hour of walking and a gelato stop we found it right around where we were the previous hour. We dropped our stuff and were off again.
We walked a little ways to the Via Del Corso to do a little shopping. I found a really cute pearl head band and a bow, which was all that I really bought in Rome.
We walked to the end of the Via Del Corso and witnessed the cheesiest horse show I have ever seen. We then got on the metro to go to the Spanish Steps. They were beautiful at night and there was a group of medieval dressed performers doing tricks and playing with fire in front of the steps. We walked up them to a church that is at the top and went inside to listen to a worship service that was going on. The singing inside of the church was heavenly and I enjoyed sitting in on a worship service other than our churches. After exploring a little we went to one of the restaurants that Caitlin picked out called La Bruschetta. Our waiter was the sweetest man we had met in Rome his name was Bonaphachi and he was obsessed with American sports. Jake was very impressed with his knowledge of sports teams. I had very authentic carbonara and it was delicious. After dinner we walked back to our hotel and quickly fell asleep finally after about thirty six hours.
Honeymoon shot with Jake.
Emma and I on the Spanish Steps.
Rome is Beautiful.

windsor and other outings.

According to my “blog” aka my mother I am in need to updating, but I already was planning on doing that because I have a ridiculous amount to catch up on.
Monday, a week ago, was a normal class day. I had Classic Civilization and British Literature. I then took a walk around where I live and got a few things to send to the states for Valentine’s Day. I then walked to the post. Now a note…

Dearest Father,
In my great intentions to send a package home and to Kylie the credit card was used. Needless to say postage here is a little more expensive than in the states and your package to send was more than it was worth. But the point of this was to show my love so hopefully you will be okay with it. I sure love you and hope you thoroughly enjoy those treats!
-Love your Londoner

The next series of adventures were by far my favorite. Emma, Audrey, Laura, Christina, Jenny, Jenny’s dad who was visiting because of business, and I went to Ben’s cookies! (Mom, cookie fanatic, you would love these) I got a milk chocolate chunk which was gooey, warm and delicious. We then got on the tube and went to the best production I have been to, Phantom of the Opera. I was completely overwhelmed the whole two hours of watching it, I am sure my jaw dropped at a few of the really high notes. After we went with Jenny’s dad + Jake and Caitlin to try to go to Rules, the first pub in London that is really expensive and has amazing desserts, but they didn’t have enough room to fit all nine of us. So we went to a random little Italian restaurant and had a late night snack. It was so fun having a parent around, it made me really miss my parents. I love them so much!

Audrey and I before Phantom. Me and Jake.Tuesday was a group travel day before our weekend out of the center. I went to one of my favorite places so far, Windsor Castle, where the Queen lives on the weekends. I started off the day by getting up around six thirty to go do kitchen crew, which I have been doing all week. We have to put out and help with breakfast and dinner and clean everything up. So once I was done cleaning I rushed to get ready and got on the coach. Audrey has been my sitting partner and we both fell asleep really quickly for a short hour and then were woken up by professor MacFarlane telling us that we were at Running Meade, the place where the Magna Carta was thought up. We got out of the cozy warm coach reluctantly and walked thought a muddy field to a memorial for it. The whole forty five minutes we were there was basically a photo shoot so we got back on the coach and headed for Windsor. In Windsor we walked to the castle and went on a self guided tour of the state apartments, the semi-state apartments that were open, St. George’s chapel and the grounds. It is a beautiful castle, although from the outside it may not appear to be. We then took a short walk to a little café and Emma and I got these tasty sandwiches and chips(french fries, I have concluded that the Brits call fries chips because they don't like the French). It was a little pricey for the quality but none the less it was good. Then as we always do on our day trips we stopped in at Starbucks for a hazelnut hot chocolate. Yummmmmy! After another short bus ride we were at a small church yard called Stoke Poges. We walked through the graveyard, the church and the most beautiful gardens. Across a little river in the gardens was a gorgeous golf course and club house that I know my dad would have loved! We took tons of pictures and the made the short journey home. I fell asleep that night around seven and didn’t wake up until eight in the morning for kitchen duty again. I needed that sleep because we were leaving for Rome the next day!

Our happy little family.
Jenny and I in Stoke Poges
I love Calvin. He is very strong and makes me smile.
Beautiful golf course in Stoke Poges.

london is my [second] home. and i love it here.