Monthly Archives: February 2012

Valentine’s Day Festivities

I love this holiday…I think it is probably the cutest holiday. A fat baby with arrows and chocolate? I’m game. Well, I am blogging and writing a paper to celebrate. 

I love this bakery right around the corner from where I live called The Hummingbird Bakery. It is adorable with the best cupcakes and coffee I’ve had in England. I even have the cookbooks, so look out for treats when I get home. 

Anyways, I made dinner: baked homemade veggie pita pizza and baked asparagus with a chocolate cupcake for dessert. Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

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Cheers!!

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Edinburgh, Scotland

I am going to do another journal style entry. Keeping a dairy on these trips is just so gosh darned handy for play catch-up on my blog.

Friday: Got in to Scotland, found our hostel (Castle Rock Hostel). I LOVE the Scottish accent. We went to a pub called Biddy Mulligan’s, unfortunately I wasn’t feeling well so I went to bed pretty early. Sadly, I think all the traveling caught up with me.

Saturday: Had breakfast at a place called Deacon’s house and had a really delicious breakfast sandwich and Scottish breakfast tea. We then went on almost a three hour tour of Edinburgh Castle, which included seeing the Crown Jewels and buying my dad some aged Scottish Whiskey (best-abroad-daughter-award-buying-her-dad-a-gift, anyone?). We hen went to a Scottish Whiskey tasting, aptly named “Malt” Disney. We ate dinner at a pub and watched a rugby match. Then, we went on a walk through the graveyard where J.K. Rowling got inspirations for names of a lot of the Harry Potter characters. We were able to find Crookshanks and McGonagall!! Afterwards, we wandered through a local bookstore. We then went on a pub crawl of our own, including partaking in a Stag Party (Bachelor Party) and even going to a club called Frankenstein. SO MUCH FUN!!!

 

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Sunday: We ate breakfast the The Elephant House. Does that sound familiar? It should because that is where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. I had a delicious breakfast and bought a mug that has the “birthplace of Harry Potter” on one side and The Elephant House on the other. I would be lying if I said I didn’t get choked up being there. Harry Potter is my mot significant memory from my chiuldhood and being where it all happened was really emotionally moving. Inside the bathroom everyone had written notes on the walls to JKR herself, so of course I had to join in. Image

mine says:

                       Dear JKR,

                     Thanks for the magical childhood. I can’t to read your books to my kids. Mischief  managed! Love, Katie Then, I met up with a distant kind of relative who goes to school in Glasgow, about a 40 minute train ride away. She joined our group for getting a deep-fried Mars Bar, vintage shopping, a haunted tour of underground Edinburgh and an early dinner. It was lovely meeting her and I will hopefully see her soon when she comes to London!

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Well, that was my trip to Scotland!! I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to go back. It was truly Incredible.

Cheers!!

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The City at Night

I got to go on the London Eye at night through FIE. Not a whole lot to say, but here are some pictures!

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Istanbul was Constantinople….

For those of you that were not aware, I went to Turkey for a class trip and it was AMAZING!!!! However, it snowed in London which caused Heathrow to shut down…turning our four day trip into a five day trip. Not all bad, especially considering how incredible Istanbul was. I am definitely in love with the culture. Anyways, I kept a journal during my trip, so enjoy…

Thursday: The flight was exhausting. We were delayed for an hour and a half and got into Turkey late, so we didn’t leave the airport until around 8:00. We ate THE most amazing dinner: pita with different Turkish sauces, lamb kebabs, chocolate soufflé for desert and a Cosmopolitan to drink. I couldn’t even eat half of what was put on our table and, because it  was so late, we ate and then literally went to bed with a food coma. So far, Istanbul is beautiful! So many pretty mosques and Roman architecture. It has been so long since I have been in a country where I couldn’t speak the language or ready the signs or menus. Strange but very cool.

Friday: So I have decided that Turkey is literally the home of the most incredible food ever. Breakfast at our hotel was amazing followed by a cool lecture on the place of Turkey in relation to the European Union. Then, a boat ride on the Bosporus over to the other side of Istanbul. It is the only city split across two continents (Europe and Asia). So, I was in Asia for lunch then we got back on the boat for a boat tour of Istanbul. After that we toured the Hagia Sofia, which is every bit as incredible as everything I have ever read about it. It was at one point in time the largest Church in Christendom. It was conquered by Mehmet II when Constantinople became Istanbul and converted to a mosque. It is now a museum that is home to traditional arabic artwork as well as beautiful Christian mosaics. We also went to the Basilica Cistern and Hippodrome. All of this was followed by a nap and then going to the popular nightlife of the city in Taxim Square. Amazing Day!! 

Saturday: Today we went to the Blue Mosque which was one of the most beautiful building I have ever been inside. It is full of the incredible Iznik tile and so colorful. We had to take off our shoes so as to not get it covered in muddy footprints, but it was an incredible thing to behold!! After that we went to the Topkapi Palace, a traditionally Turkish royal residence. I wandered around the Harem (family living quarters), saw so much Iznik tile and was so excited I literally couldn’t contain myself, drank delicious fresh pomegranate juice and had a traditional bagel for lunch. We then went to the Suleymaniye Mosque built by Suleyman the Magnificent/Law-Giver. Much less decorated but still amazing to finally see in person. We then went to the Grand Bazaar which was literslly the most fun I have ever had shopping, followed by a Turkish Bath. Overall, a really full but incredible day!

Sunday: We went to Dolmabahce Palace, which is much more modern! We also found out that our flight was cancelled so we go to have more free time to wander the city, so wander we did. I went to bed early because we had an early flight on Monday morning. So, pretty boring but still a lot of fun.

Well there you have it. That is all I did literally transcribed from my journal. Now for some photographs….

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view of the Hagia Sofia from where we ate breakfast at our hotel

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inside the Hagia Sofia

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inside the Blue Mosque

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I love Istanbul!! Yes that is snow on the ground and I am not wearing a coat.

I’m a maverick.

 

Well I guess that’s all for now! Cheers!

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Tower of London

The Tower of London is probably my favorite place in the entire city of London. You might be asking, “Gee, Katie, that’s a pretty big claim to say. Why, out of all the places in London, do you love the Tower?” First of all, thanks for asking your question in such a polite way. Second, I really love it because it is literally covered in history, myth and conspiracies. It is surrounded by a moat…or what used to be a moat. It is now a low-level grassy area. The first time I went, an ice skating rink was there for the holidays (definitely not it’s original intention). Yes, the first time. I have been to the sight five times, but I have only been inside twice. I’d still be willing to go again (Yeah, I know I’m that kid that loiters around historical points of interest. I’m super cool).

At the time it was built, it was literally an island surrounded by water that was impenetrable to foreign invasion and impossible to escape from if you were a prisoner of the state. I got to see where Ann Boleyn was beheaded, see the torture areas (not as many or as large as you would think), explore the white tower, see the crown jewels (by going through the exhibit like 8 times), get a tour from a Beefeater (tower guard) and see the GardenTower/”Bloody Tower.” The “Bloody Tower” was especially important to me because of the the story of the Two Princes in the Tower. The story goes…(taken directly from the Tower of London site)

“The sons of King Edward IV, 12-year-old Edward V and his younger brother Richard, were sent to the Tower by their uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. By July 1483 they were declared illegitimate and the Duke was crowned King Richard III. The Princes were never seen again. Richard III has usually been considered the most likely culprit. By declaring the princes illegitimate, he cleared his way to the throne. He would safeguard his position by having them killed. In 1485, Richard III was killed in the Battle of Bosworth. The victor, Henry Tudor, was crowned King Henry VII. It was in the Tudors’ interest to paint Richard as a villain. Henry VII is also a suspect. He married the princes’ sister, Elizabeth of York, strengthening his claim to the throne. This could have been jeopardised if the boys had survived. It does seem unlikely that they survived beyond the end of Richard’s reign without being seen.Thomas More, writing over 30 years later, stated that the princes were smothered on their uncle’s orders, secretly buried ‘at the stair foot’, and then reburied elsewhere in the Tower. Two skeletons, identified as those of the princes, were discovered when a building in front of the White Tower was demolished in 1674. You can see a plaque commemorating the princes near this site. The skeletons were examined in 1933 and pronounced as belonging to two boys, aged about ten and twelve.” 

To this day, there isn’t enough to conduct an accurate genetic test to prove the identity of the two skeletons. I am on the verge of obsessed with this myth. I personally think King Richard killed, or at least ordered the killing, of the two princes. I also love the history around the period of the War of the Roses so I was looking forward to this before I even came to London. Well anyways, here are some picture from my visit(s). As if this long post wasn’t enough (I told you it’s my favorite…). Image

Do you like my castle?

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The White Tower…you know, cause it’s made out of white stones…

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Where Anne Boleyn was beheaded

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I make friends really easily….

The last time I was there, I bought an ornament from the Christmas section of one of the gift shops. Can you guess what it was? It is an ornament of Henry VII…wearing mismatched socks…holding a chicken leg. I think it is literally the most hilarious thing ever and was laughing so hard I think the staff had genuinely thought I lost my mind. I mean, who wants Henry VIII on their Christmas tree? Apparently me…but this beaut won’t be seasonal. Henry will be display in my room next year all year round, drumstick and all. Cheers!!!

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Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year was definitely an experience. I went with some of my flatmates to go explore Trafalgar Square and Chinatown where all the festivities were taking place. It was absolutely jam-packed…like, I literally couldn’t move anywhere or anything with out accidentally assaulting someone else. It was a little overwhelming being so squished in such a large area and it took forever to get anywhere. That being said, it was very cool! There were so many fireworks, a parade, puppets, paper lanterns and the best Chinese food of my life!!!! Here are some of my pictures:

(part of the madness that was Trafalgar Square)

(my friend, Noel, and I waiting for the parade)

It was truly incredible and totally worth braving the conditions (and numerous large seas of people) for a fun day out. This was a great day made perfect by going on a walking tour of haunted London. Overall, a really amazing day!!!!

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Night Life

London is such an amazing city!! So, naturally at night I don’t just sit in my room. I have seen shows, hung out at pubs and really tried to experience the night life of London . All of these were so much fun and definitely a new experience.  I saw Legally Blonde: the Musical and The 49 Steps.  The 49 Steps i a musical in typical British fashion with a wonderful sense of sarcastic British humor. It only has four characters and is a very funny plot line. If you get the chance to see it in America, then I absolutely suggest you check it out. Legally Blond was absolutely incredible. I have loved the show for years and know the words to all the songs by heart. It was so vivacious and pink and incredibly fun!

(from The 49 Steps)

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Pub life here is really unlike anything in the states. Pub comes from the phrase public houses, which is because they really serve as a kind of public living room where you can watch the football match and drink a pint. The food is incredible and something you should really make time to try if you ever come to England. My friend Steph, who is studying abroad in Spain, visited London. I was actually in Turkey for most of it, but we did get to go out to a pub for fish and chips and a pint before she left. Two of my roommates are great friends with her two friend who are also studying abroad in spain, so going out to dinner was a nice SNC reunion. Delicious!

Cheers to more adventures!!

 

 

 

 

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