Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sketching Abroad

Here is just a small sampling of sketches that we were required to do throughout our journeyings here in Europe. Enjoy.


Angel statue on a bridge in Rome

Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence

Florence skyline in watercolor

The Duomo in Florence

The Rialto Bridge in Venice

St. Mark's arch detail in Venice

Notre Dame in Paris

The Eiffel Tower

Villa Savoy by Le Corbusier in Paris


Country Recaps

I T A L I A:

Sweet country of my own heart. Italy brought so many wonderful, memorable and beautiful experiences. The cities were gorgeous, filled with history, delicious gelato, warm weather, shnazzy people in tailored and designer apparel and savory pasta. The people spoke beautifully, greeted us warmly and were understanding and patient with the language barrier. Italy brought hurricane Paulo, tears at the Sistine Chapel, swim caps at the pool, quaint cafes in Florence, cheap street markets, Groms lemone gelato, 5 star hotel in Venice, gorgeous canals and architecture, pristine beaches and pizza in abundance wherever we went. It was warm, rich in culture and utterly belissimo. Gratsi Italia.


P A R I S:

The big and bold city of Paris. So much to see and experience in such a vibrant country. Paris brought not only the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, but also assorted artisan cheese blends, bagettes for miles, pasteries to die for and surprisingly, very friendly Parisians. The Seine showed us the city, the Eiffel Tower dazzled, the Opera House gave us the music of the night, Villa Savoy inspired, Bastille Day fireworks left me awe, Versailles overwhelmed (as did Sid), the Louvre brought gratitude and Vaux de Vicomte was magical. It was big, filled with a passionate culture and cuisine and was c'est magnifique. Merci Paris.

Au revoir!

E N G L A N D:

Land of my forefathers. We left the old and gaudy and came to the modern and streamlined. London is defined by up and coming, breakthrough, fresh, new, urban and dapper. The city has been filled with posh cars, upscale stores, pubs, hip restaurants, modern architecture fused with historical influences, premiers, nightclubs, designers and the hustle and bustle of the tube. We have seen palaces, manors, halls, houses and homes to royalty, Earls, Duke, Marquees and Dutchesses. Train rides, musicals, countrysides, rolling hills, hendges of stone, and Bens that are big brought new appreciation, laughter and broader views of design. The city has been welcoming, exciting, eclectic, modern and of course, brilliant.

Cheers Britain!

The past five weeks cannot be fully described in words. To say it has been amazing is an understatement. Life changing for sure. My eyes have been opened to new cultures, my palate to new cuisine and my style to new design. I will be taking away so much more then pictures and souvenirs from this study abroad. Thank you Utah State. I love being an Aggie.

For the last time.
Ciao, au revoir and cheers.

BJF'S, a symbol of love, peace and commitment.

I have decided that this topic needs to be a post in and of itself due to the significance its played on this trip. You may have noticed frequent pictures of the Fab 5, including myself, with quasi-peace sign fingers. More like lack luster, limp peace signs fingers.

The reasoning is this. In almost every painting or statue of Madona and child (Mary and the baby Jesus, as well as toddler Jesus) "child" in these paintings is almost always making this sign. Let me prove my point...

Lets fast forward a few days and go to when this realization came to fruition. One day I took a picture of the girls, like alot of days; and the discovery was made. There was Ali, attempting a peace sign (attempting being the main word there) and I saw it.

Out of my mouth came, amongst uncontrollable laughter, "Whats with the baby Jesus fingers?" It stuck and the rest is history. Of course then the question was posed if our modern peace sign was actually derived from the ancient gesture made by the "Prince of Peace". However, according to Wikipedia, this is totally false. The "V" peace sign was actually formed during the Vietnam War and was originally a symbol for victory, and the hippies adapted it as a "peace sign" in protests. FYI.

So, from then on, BJF's it was. No more peace signs, just BJF's and occasional double thumbs up. As the Fab 5 friendship grew, the BJF sign was adapted into a meer greeting sign or a farewell. Also as a sign of commitment; example: "Will you bring me back some gelato? " "Yes." "BJF that you will." Ok, point proven.

The simple gesture of the BJF's will forever be one of the most endearing sentiments
someone could throw out. Thank you Study Abroad for giving us this discovery.


8.4.09 Last day of Study Abroad!!

Wow. Five weeks just flew by. Here's the rundown for the day. We started out meeting up with the whole group and headed towards the infamous Buckingham Palace; which just opened for he summer tour season.

We got out tickets and audio tour and began our royal tour. I loved the palace. Its everything you image a royal palace to be like. Sadly no pictures were allowed on the inside, therefore I dont have much to show for our journey out there.

Back view where we exited.

Many parts of it felt almost like a really shnaz hotel. Which was nice because it felt very inviting and regal, not gaudy and overwhelming. our tour through it lasted about 45 minutes and ended with us going out into the gardens which were awesome.

Yes, those two little ladies in cloaks...Asians. Go figure.

This is at the top of the wall surrounding the palace. Good luck with sneakin in.

After our royal adventure we exited and attempted to go to the tube station. After wandering a while, we finally made it to the station. When we got there all we heard were alarms, and there were ambulances, policemen and firetrucks everywhere. So of course the underground (aka the tube. aka the subway) was closed. When we got close this is what we heard on the overcom speakers, "The Victoria line is currently closed due to a person under the train." They have zero tact about announcing when someone has somehow gotten on the tracks. Not funny at all, but guess how many times its happened since we have been here. THREE! Three times! There are big signs and announcements by the platforms that say "Mind the gap" meaning the gap between the platform and the train.

That one had quite a healthy gap.

Which sometimes is like two inches and other times its a good foot, requiring a bit of a leap. So somehow people are either getting wedged in the gap, getting pushed in front of a train or voluntarily jumping in front of it; which sadly happens quite often. So after that fiasco we were able to get to another tube stop and off we each went our separate ways.

Cant leave London without one of these pics.

As for myself, back to the sports mecca I went. I still had floors 4-6 to explore. I love that place so much. I made some great purchases and then felt I needed to experience the one and only Harrods. Luckily I wasnt dressed too casual or I would have felt like a fool inside. Gucci, Prada, Dolce, Marc Jacobs and Burberry lined the walls with their mocking price tags that I dont know who can afford. Harrods Cashmere cardigan? Only 1,400 pounds. Yes, thats the equivalent of $2,370. For some cloth that drapes around your shoulders. It blows my mind. I however, after pretending like I could afford jazz like that made my way to the gift shop. You heard me right, this department store has its own giftshop and Harrods has done better at finding things to slap their name on then any store I have ever seen. I proceeded to spend large sums of money on things like english buscuits and chocolate, then explored some more. I had to stop and take a picture when I came upon the Egyptian escalators. Normal ones just would not suffice for Harrods, oh no.

Harrods was a very magical time, filled with beautiful things and beautiful people selling them. Maybe one day I will be able to actually purchase something to wear there, not just eat. As for now I dont mind the chocolate.

Exhausted I came back to the flat and began getting everything ready to go tomorrow. We have to be at the train station at five am, so the chances of us going to sleep are slim. However, the Fab 5 did all go out to dinner together for the last time at the Gormet Burger Kitchen. It was delicious of course. And now I am here, sitting on my bed, with my bags packed on the floor in an empty room. I have a funny feeling inside like I am leaving something that has become a part of me. But at the same time I could not be more excited to get back home and finish out the rest of my summer there. I have loved every city we have gone to, and have nothing but love for this trip. For the last time from London, cheers!!

8.3.09 London

Last free day here in London and on our trip! What?! Its weird. Very weird. The time has flown by. For our last free day we wanted to do something fun and unique. Before I came I had heard about this amusement park just outside of London that had some great rides. So we rounded up a posse of us and left at about 9:30 this morning to catch a train ride that took us about 30 minutes outside of downtown London.

I was a little worried this morning because the forecast for the day was rain. All day. Why would that surprise me? Luckily, only a few drops fell throughout the entire day and it ended up being perfect! Although it was a little crowded when we first got there and spent a good majority of our time waiting in lines. Oh, but boy were the waits worth it. Our first ride was the Stealth, and it instantly won a spot in my heart.

After about 45 minutes we were boarding the Stealth, full of excitement. You start out just sitting there, until its starts counting down and when it get to zero-bam! Off you shoot going 0-80 in 2 seconds down the track, up the arch and back down again. The whole ride lasts about 25 seconds; but was totally worth a 45 minute wait. It was SO fun.

Fun enough we did it twice today. Other rides included the Slammer (classic name) Nemesis Inferno (there's nothing to add to that) Colossus (apparently there are many other then Lagoons)

Colossus. Its was none stop spinning and twisting.

Amusement parks are just that. Amusing.

Rumba Rapids (Rattlesnake Rapids made this ride look like inner tubes floating in a tub with a broken pipe squirting. No good) And then there was SAW!

That would be the 100 degree plummet towards the rotating saw blades.

Dazed, disturbed and bewildered after the ride.

So I saw the first SAW movie edited, and it was gross, creepy and intense. I will echo the same for the ride; maybe except the gross part. Nevertheless, it was awesome. Oh, and I shant forget spread eagle sleeper. Before we went on the ride we spotted the chap naking a napski, and we had to capture the moment.

We did the whole, "pretend like your taking a picture of me so you
can zoom in on the man behind me" routine. Works like a gem.

The result...spread eagle sleeper. Poor fella was all tuckered out from
the rides, games and cotton candy.

We then snagged some lunch, went on some more rides then decided to hit up the good ole Teacups. Honestly, I cant remember the last time I had been on them. I quickly realized what I had been missing. I was so happy we documented the experience for your viewing pleasure.

We were at the park for a good six and a half hours and were down right pooped by the end of the day. The rides were hilariously fun, the weather was great, the company was entertaining and overall is was just a great day!

Peace and love.


Monday, August 3, 2009

8.2.09 London

Yay for Sunday. Today was another wonderfully relaxing day, started out right by us heading off to church at 9. We opted to go to the family ward this week so we could have the rest of the day to do stuff.

Off to worship

After church the girls stayed home and I headed off to fulfill a life long goal of mine- go to Wimbledon. Sadly the championships ended the first week of July, but I was able to go to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for a tour of the grounds and the museum. However, one day I will attend the actual tournament; but this was a pretty great substitute.

View of the outside of court number 1


After. Sad for Andy Roddick though

There was a group of about 30 on my tour and it lasted about 2 hours. We were taken everywhere there is to go on the grounds. We started out by seeing some of their outside courts which are used by the regular club members and were then taken into court number 1.

Court number 1 and Center Court are only used for two weeks out of the year; the two weeks of Wimbledon. As soon as the tournament is over they strip off the top layer of grass, make the ground perfect again and then reseed for the following year. Court 1 is used mostly for only the big name players in the top 10 for their matches and the semifinal matches. Then the finals are played out in Center Court. From there we walked around "Henman Hill" where fans sit and watch the live play on a giant jumbo screen.

They put up a screen that is as tall as the roof and goes right in the middle
of where that entrance is. The hill accommodates around 3,000 people. But, just to get in
for the day you have to be in line at least 3 hours before the ticket office opens.
Day prices are around 20 pounds.

Not only were the grass courts gorgeous and the facilities very nice; but the grounds
were incredible! This place was manicured to the "t" everywhere you looked.

We then were shown the press room where all the player interviews take place live after every match. I learned that every player whether they win or lose have to be interviewed whether they want to be or not. The penalty if they dont is a big fatty fat fine.

Me. Sitting in the same chairs as the greats.

We walked to where all the players hang out and eat when they arent playing and had a great view over all the grounds.

Some of the club members playing.

The new court number 2

From there we headed towards Center Court passing pictures of past champions from all the years.

We were led into a tunnel that our tour guide told us the tunnel the players walk out of to the court. I felt special. Then we beheld her...

If it looks a but like a soccer field and not a tennis court, its because they already
have reseeded for next years Wimbledon. So its not mowed and doesnt have the lines
painted on it; but it was still cool. You can also see the new ceiling that was
installed for this years championships.

I will be back one day. But as a spectator, not a tourist.

After the tour we were free to wander through the Museum, which had exhibits featuring tennis' roots, fashion, lengends and icons, as well as match highlights and a film about the club.

Josephine and Clint were a real good time at the "match".
Thank you for spectator manicans I can pose with.

The trophies presented to the champs. They dont actually get to keep these, they get
smaller replicas. They only get to hold these ones immediately after the match,
then they have to give them back. Lame I know.

All and all it was three and a half of the funnest hours I have ever spent. A great leisurly afternoon activity for me. On the walk back to the tube station were tons of really cool high end residencies. Most of which were behind huge gates, but some were jazzy looking row houses.

Once I got back to South Kensington I of course got my camera out as I always do to be ready to snap a pick of some steezy car cruising around. Its such a regular occurance thats its usually not hard to find one. Today was different however, so instead I am highlighting a more misunderstood steeze. With that, the Smart Car.

Where it likes the style aspect of steeze if makes up with the ease aspect.
Small on size and gas prices, this little philly makes us all proud by its low impact
on mother nature and by filling those awkwardly small parking places we all wish
we could fit into.

I got back to the flat and what did I find? The girls at the table with a feast of a sunday dinner all made. How I love them.

Chicken Pesto on bow tie with potatoes and veggies.
As usually, I was perfectly content with me doing the dishes as
my contribution to such a delicious meal.