Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Some Clever "Adrian-isms"...

No trip to London is complete without some clever sayings from my uncle Adrian (who was born and raised in London). Every time I am with them, more and more of these sayings are brought to my attention and I can't help myself from laughing. Not all of them are true "sayings"; some are more hysterical comments. Here is just a smattering of some of them so far on this trip:

- a bisexual bathroom: After going to the loo in a chocolate shop/cafe, Adrian comes back to the table and tells Enid and I that he thoroughly enjoyed the "bisexual bathroom" aka the unisex bathroom. Laughter and hilarity clearly ensued.

- a chocolate lab with white socks aka a "springer": While walking through the gardens in Bath, a springer spaniel was walking with its owner towards us. Adrian commented that "a chocolate lab with white socks" was coming towards us. Not being a dog lover, he was unaware that the dog was in fact a springer spaniel, which he then called a "springer".

- the old nut-less wonder: While at the horse races at Kempton Place on Monday, Enid picked one horse Gandalf for one of her races. Gandalf, we later found out, was about 8 years old (one of the oldest horses in that race against 2 and 3 year olds) and had just become a gelding (meaning he had just gotten the snip snip). Gandalf, was known for the rest of the day, as "the old nut-less wonder".

It will definitely be sad to leave London on Thursday morning, as I have had a fabulous time. We of course stopped at the Coronation Hall last night for a pint before heading to a delicious Italian dinner. For those of you who don't know, the Coronation Hall is a pub right by the Surbiton train station, where my uncle proposed to my aunt after about 10 days (more or less) of knowing each other! As it is one of the most romantic stories, it is also one of my favorite to tell haha. Today is another relaxing day filled with walking around, shopping, maybe a nap, and more pub frequenting and dinner tonight. Tomorrow we are headed into London for the day to walk around Covent Garden (one of my favorite places in London) and to eat at The Canton, a spectacular Chinese restaurant in Chinatown (duh where else haha), where Adrian has been going since he was a little boy. I have been there about 4 times or so and have never been let down by the food or the service, so am excited to go back again! I have also fallen in love again with the walking culture and atmosphere that you find only in Europe. I was a bit nervous that I would be out of walking shape and would be sore and extremely tired after a day of walking around everywhere, but I haven't found that to be true and have only seen the benefits (hello looser jeans!). I'm hoping the benefits will only continue when I get to Logrono, as I would assume I will be doing a lot of walking as it's a smaller town and Spain is a definite walking country.

Time to hit the pavement and walk into Kingston again with Adrian to meet up with Enid for some lunch, shopping, and what else?! more walking!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In the Land of Tea and Crumpets

Why yes I made it over to Europe after a couple of very uneventful flights (whew)! I arrived in London on Wednesday morning where I met my aunt and uncle. We somehow maneuvered my luggage onto the bus and up three flights of stairs to their flat in Kingston upon Thames. After a quick shower and repacking, we headed to the Surbiton train station to catch a train to take us to Salisbury, which we used as our home base this weekend. We arrived in Salisbury late afternoon, checked into our hotel, and got right to the sightseeing! We walked around Salisbury for a while and say the cathedral which is amazing! We were even able to hear a bit of evening prayer sung by the choristers, which was incredible! Salisbury is a great city; big enough that there's plenty to do, but small enough that you can walk from one end of the city center to the other in 20 minutes or less. The weather was overcast and chilly, but didn't rain! After dinner, we went to bed early (9 pm whoo go crazy!), as I was jet-lagged and we had a full day of us in the morning.
View of Salisbury Cathedral 

Thursday morning we got up and hopped on a bus to visit Stonehenge! I was quite excited to see Stonehenge as I have heard so much about it and there is so much mysticism about it. The first view of Stonehenge is very anticlimactic. It sits right beside a highway through the countryside, so it almost sneaks up on you. But once you walk up to the site, it really is incredible! It is amazing to think that these stones are not only 5000 years old, but that they were brought here from another site by river and dragged over 2 miles to this spot! The fact that I was standing on a site where people have come for over 5000 years amazed me. We lucked out with the weather since it was supposed to rain all day, but didn't rain once, even though it was overcast! I definitely stuck out as an American seeing as I was the only one dressed in a jacket, and a bright blue Northface at that! After seeing Stonehenge, we took the bus to Old Sarum about 30 minutes away. Old Sarum is a giant earthwork that was built in 500 B.C. and has been used by people ever since! The most famous person to use Old Sarum is William the Conqueror, who called the lords to pay homage to him there in 1085. It was really cool to once again think that so many people, both famous and not, had set foot on that site and had put their own touch on history.

Stonehenge what what!!

Old Sarum

After we got back from Stonehenge and Old Sarum, we walked around Salisbury some more. We went back to the Cathedral to see the Chapter House, where one of the original 4 versions of the Magna Carta is held! That was also amazing and we were able to talk with one of the woman who works there who gave us some insider tips. We also talked about her trip to Chicago back in the 70's when she expected it to be like Starsky and Hutch with cars whipping around corners haha. Bath was the next city on our stop, which is actually where my uncle went to university for his master's degree. The city is built almost entirely with bath stone, an almost buttery looking stone. We walked around the city saw the Roman baths, the Circus, and the Royal Crescent, which are all famous sights in the city. Of course throughout all of these visits, we stopped at the local pubs for a pint for a quick break during the day. The last stop in our trip was to Avebury, another site similar to Stonehenge. Avebury is a town which grew up around these stones. The stones also have a mystical feel to them and there was actually a prayer service/worship service/festival that was going on while we were there. 

Roman baths

Avebury stones

So all in all it was a fabulous trip... and only more is yet to come in and around London!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hasta luego America!!

Well it's finally here. In t-minus 7 hours I will be starting my journey across the pond! I have been waiting for this day since last October when I came back and now that it's here, it doesn't seem real! It still hasn't hit me yet that this isn't just a week long vacation to London, but that this will be my life for the next 9 months! I have packed, and re-packed, and packed yet again, but am finally all set! Staying to not only the weight limit with my luggage, but the number of bags as well, has been difficult but luckily shipping stuff over is possible, so as soon as I find a place, my parents will be shipping over another suitcase. Thank god for that, because I don't think I would be able to live off of what I brought for an entire year!

All packed and ready to go!

I am very excited to make a stop off in London first to visit my aunt and uncle and do a bit of traveling. We have a fun little weekend getaway planned to Bath and Stonehenge, which will be great as I have never seen that area of England before! So now it's time to make sure I have any last minute stuff, take Lucy to the dog park one last time, and head to the airport! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly and I make it to London and then my final destination of Madrid (there's talks out there that authorities are going to strike in Spain causing all flights and transportation to be shut down September 29, of course the day I will be flying to Spain), so everyone keep fingers and toes crossed that I make it! Keep the emails, comments, facebook posts, twitter comments, etc coming! Next time I sign on, I'll be in Europe! Hasta luego America, hola Europa!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Adventures of Sugartoad!

So after recently visiting the Naperville Wine Festival and scoring some sweet swag, I have decided to introduce the world to Sugartoad! Sugartoad is a plastic blow fish that my mother received while at the wine festival and, much like flat Stanley, I have decided to take Sugartoad along with me on my adventures in Spain! I am hoping he likes Spain (and cervezas) as much as I do! I am also planning on letting my children take him home over the weekends (that is if he likes them and allows them haha) and take pictures with him and then share with the class. So that's my idea and hopefully it works! As you can see Sugartoad has already enjoyed the company of some fine friends during dinner and he hopes to have much more fun abroad!

The one, the only Sugartoad!

Good friends, good times

Lucy's a bit afraid of him

Monday, September 13, 2010

So much to do...

One week down, and only one more to go! It’s hard to believe that I will be leaving in a week and it certainly hasn’t hit me yet. I think I’m still in the mindset of “oh yea in a week I’ll be going to London for a week-long vacation”, not “oh yea in a week I am moving to Spain for 9 months”! So I’m waiting for that moment where it actually hits me, which probably won’t be until I am at the airport in London, leaving to go to orientation in Madrid. I am certainly ready to go in the sense that I am still excited and happy about moving to Spain, but not ready to go in the sense that I have all my things packed and everything else done. I am starting to get a bit overwhelmed with all that I have left to do, but luckily I am a list person haha. I have a list on my phone as well as a list on my computer and am just trying to check things off one at a time. I think the hardest part will be the packing, as I have to try and decide what clothes I will be wearing for the next year of my life and try and fit them all into 2 suitcases. What makes that even harder is that I am only going to bring over one suitcase with clothes for about a month and then have my parents send me over the over suitcase. So not only do I have to decide if I will wear it in Spain, but if I will wear it within the first month. So needless to say I need to start checking the weather so I can decide if those boots will be necessary the first month or if they can wait (or if I should just buy them when I get over there haha).

And even though I am stressing about the packing, the errands and whatnot for next week, I am still very excited. I had a fabulous weekend with friends this past weekend (Benet Academy 5 year reunion wohoo) and next weekend looks to be another great weekend with family and friends (Naperville wine festival… need I say more?!) Okay it’s probably time to sign off here and get cracking on that list of things to do….

Thursday, September 2, 2010

2 Weeks and Counting...

         It’s hard to believe two weeks from now I will once again be packing up my life into one suitcase (yes one!) and traveling across the big pond to Spain! It seems like yesterday that I was still in Seville going through my CELTA class. It’s weird to think that I have been home in the States for almost 11 months, but yet have been back to Spain for a visit!
As I start to think of the long list of things I have to accomplish before I head over, I’m getting extremely excited but also nervous as well. Will I like the schools I’m teaching in? Will I be able to find a place and with roommates I like? Will I be able to communicate in Spanish as if I’ve never left? Will my English skills be up to par (let’s hope so)? And even though I’m nervous, it’s a good kind of nervous. Of course I will miss being home with my friends and family, but I am excited beyond belief to finally be going back “home”. Ever since my second day in Spain, I felt like I belonged and knew I had to find some way to get back. I have been lucky enough to not only go back once, but twice (and in two different cities and areas)!
 I will definitely miss the little things that come with living in the States, such as being able to call or text my friends whenever I want, taking Lucy to the dog park, being able to sit on the couch and watch trashy TV shows all night long, bake cookies and cupcakes (ovens are a rarity in Spain), but I am also excited about the little things about returning to Spain. I am excited once again to use public transportation as my main means of getting around, to go out for a quick drink with friends on a Tuesday night and have it turn into an all night affair complete with meeting new people, to “have” to take a regular siesta as well as three day weekends, and to not break the bank with 1 euro Cruzcampos when we go out.
These next two weeks are sure to be fun filled and emotional as I say goodbye to friends and family and say hello to new friends and family across the pond! I can’t wait for this new adventure to begin!