Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Czech Republic: Day Three & Four

Phew!  Made it to Prague.  I should fill you all in on our last full day with the Lobels, though, before jumping into our Prague adventure.

Monday morning we got up and went to Jonny's school.  He's a teacher at BMA, a highly academic, well reputed school in Frydlant n.O.  It's basically the equivalent of a charter school, but is also the only Christian affiliated school in the country.  Anyway, it's awesome.  It's small and has a great family feel about it, something atypical of Czech high schools.  We took lots of pix with the regular camera, so be looking for shots of it when we post all our pix at the end of this week.  We got to sit in on four classes, which was really neat.  Jonny's english class was first and Nathan and I got to give the class lesson!  We shared about two American cities: NYC and Los Angeles.  Actually, I learned a lot believe it or not, in preparing the lessons.  The kids responded well and we did a game at the end.  After that, we sat in on a computer class and two more english classes (one with 3rd year students and one with 4th year students).  At Jonny's break we headed down the street to another typical Czech restaurant.  We had a good meal and I finally tried the fried cheese.  It's probably the last time I'm doing that.  The Czech food is insanely filling. It's all meat and potatoes various ways.  Yummy, but really heavy.  Anyway, the afternoon was chill for Nate and I.  We headed back to the Lobels and did laundry, I did some school work, and such.

When Lisa and Jonny both got home from work, we headed to this retreat hotel up on a nearby mountain to enjoy coffee and play Carcassonne (again).  I got a delish latte that I drank way too fast.  We also had a typical honey cake with our drinks.  Here's a shot of my drink with some "latte art" in the foam and a picture from the resort at sunset.  Beautiful.

I didn't mess with this picture.  It really is this picturesque.

This reminded me of my friend, Daisy.  It's a daisy!  On Polish pottery no less. :-)

After we had a great afternoon of chatting and Lisa & I tying for first against the boys, we headed back down the mountain to buy train tickets for our morning trip into Prague.  A bit later, we headed to a cute Portugese restaurant that serves Portuguese and Spanish food for some Paella.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  Paella in a landlocked country.  I have to say it was delish.  The owners are an adorable husband and wife who love running their little place.  They actually only opened for us yesterday so we were the only ones in the restaurant.  It was truly a wonderful evening.  Lots of good food, wine, conversation, love, etc.  It was a very relaxing and encouraging end to our visit with the Lobels.  The free pitcher of Czech-style sangria was also a fantastic treat!  Sadly, I didn't take any pictures so you'll just have to use your imagination on that one.

We got back to the Lobels and spent some time praying together for each other, our families and our lives.  Such a great thing to have the chance to be with good friends, friends that are basically family, across the world from us.  We love them so much and already miss them!!  We can't wait for Baby Monkey to arrive!!!

I'm not going to Prague post, as it might make sense to just blog the two days together later in the week.  I'll let you know that we made it here, found our hotel and had two good meals so far! =)  Please leave some love so I know you're reading!  Home to the States in 3 days!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 2 in the Czech Republic

Today was fantastic.  My post will be quick because it's time for bed since we're rising early tomorrow.  This morning we got up and enjoyed breakfast burritos in Eastern Europe.  Hilarious. And delicious.  We then set out to a town not too far away where there is a traditional town on display as a museum for tourists.  It reminded me a lot of some of the colonial towns that are set up in the traditional way for tourists to get an idea of what life was like.  This was really a great museum.  It was full of well-maintained, Moravian-style buildings, made completely of wood. 

The grounds of the museum. Where's the snow??

A replica of the "town hall" and "general store."

We got to also try a bit of a Czech specialty, spiced warm wine.  It tasted a lot like cough medicine to me, but it’s enjoyed all over the country.  We popped into the cafĂ© and had a snack of Czech beer, pretzels and traditional garlic soup before heading out.

 We then drove to get some lunch at a very typical Czech Restaurant, and it was AMAZING.  SO good and very cozy.  The restaurant also brews their own beer, which we enjoyed together.  Well, all but the pregnant Lisa. J 

After our day of adventure, we only had a few minutes at home before it was off to church.  The service was in Czech, but luckily we had a translator so that we didn’t completely die of confusion and boredom.  The people were so nice after the service, coming up and saying hello, asking questions.  It’s a nice community of Czechs and other internationals.  After church we grabbed ingredients for a yummy tuna salad dinner (we were still feeling our massive lunch) and Lisa and I prepared the food.  After a dinner and a yummy dessert involving Bailey’s Mint Chocolate, we played another round of Carcassonne in which I did not win…again.  At least this time, I did not come in completely last.

Hope everyone’s weekend is going well.  Enjoy the last remnant of freedom before Monday hits.  This was going to be short but I guess that didn’t happen. Haha! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 1 in the Czech Republic

It's almost not fair to say that I've been to CZ before.  I was in Prague with my dear friend Christin back in 2003, but for only about 20 hours.  We took a train from Dresden, Germany and even got our passports stamped on the train.  Well, come to think of it, I think she had an EU card or something so I got a stamp and she didn't.  Anyway...I digress.  We woke up this morning and enjoyed a fantastic pancake (from scratch) breakfast with Vermont Maple Syrup.  Yes, you heard correctly!!  Maple Grove Farms syrup.  Nothing but the best here in Frydlant n.O!  After lots of chats, we decided to tour the town, despite the rain.  Jonny & Lisa showed us around to the river and through the buildings and the main square.  It was lovely.  We stopped in a local grocery store and after seeing the sausage counter I felt forced to take a picture for Natty.  Haha.  Also, turns out it's super normal in grocery stores to cut people in line if you have less items than they do....even a pregnant person! (we were cut by someone wanting to buy only bread and we had about 20 items....and Lisa is clearly pregnant.)  Just an odd difference.

After picking up some essentials for dinner later on, we dropped off our things at home and headed off for a surprise location: a typical Czech tea house!  So great.  Jonny warned me that I would need to be a bit quieter than my normal level of speaking because Czechs are quiet in indoor restaurants.  Boy was he correct!  I had to whisper...until the young people in the section over from us started being quite loud...but anyway.  We sat, shoes off, at a low table and enjoyed various kinds of tea and then some pita, hummus, and baba ghanoush.  Delish!  Perfect snack.

Mine is a chai tea in a glass cup. They yell "chai! chai! chai!" when they serve it. I'm serious.

After chilling at the tea house for about three hours, we headed home to make homemade pizza (Lisa-style!) and play a game called Carcassonne.  Here's a cute Lisa with an apron on her preggo belly.


Okay, so that's it for today.  More later!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Goodbye, London! Hello, Poland...and CZ!

Well, we made our first visit to POLAND!  I got a passport stamp to prove it!  I also ate a meal there, which of course makes it even more official.   I should step back for a second though and mention the events leading up to our arrival to Eastern Europe…

 Nathan and I had a good last half day in London.  We gave away all the foods stuff that we had left as well as some paper towels and cleaning spray by putting them outside our door with a sign that read: “Leaving London tomorrow.  All items are free.  Please take them.  Please!  FREE!”  They took everything but the bag of coffee, which, honestly, was a good option b/c that coffee was wretched.

A high point of yesterday was that we got to see our sweet and dear friend from Boston for breakfast.  It was a joy to see her happy and settled here in Europe.  It’s also fun to hear about her various adventures, etc.  Loved every minute, and it was only about an hour. Sad day.  Anyway, below was my croissant with Gruyere and tomato.  Indulgence.  And a pot of coffee.  Necessity.   

My last class we had a guest speaker that was pretty boring until the last 45 minutes (of a 2.5 hr total talk) when they shared their own stories of how they acquired HIV and their lives now as a result.  It went 30 minutes longer than planned which meant that everyone was fidgety and wanted to kill the girl who asked FIVE questions in a row (per usual) at the very end when we wanted to ship out.  Argh.

After class, Nathan and I met up and hopped on the Tube to the Liverpool Station and caught the Stansted Express to the airport.  We made it with a perfect amount of time to spare.  I’m proud to report that we were UNDER the weight restrictions for our two bags on Ryanair which is really a feat.  We also managed to only have one carry-on each (that’s also a strict Ryanair rule).  Thankfully, Arup agreed to hold onto our larger suitcases for this next week of travel so we didn’t have to pay to store them.  When we land in Heathrow, Nathan will go fetch our bags before we fly out to NY.  Anyway, we grabbed Pret for lunch and went through security. 

I’m not sure what to say about our flying experience other than to say that it was like flying on Hulu or something…an advertisement every 10 minutes.  Seriously.  There were automated messages that came on and the flight attendants had various motions and actions to perform each time an announcement was played.  For food purchase, Duty Free items, discounted phone plans and SIM cards, and my personal favorite…. lottery tickets!  Here’s our flight attendant showing off the special lottery cards:

I have to say that all these things were a good distraction from one of the most turbulent flights I’ve been on in a while.  Thankfully it was a short 1 hour and 40 minute hop over to Katawice (Cat-ah-Vee-CHey).  We deplaned and got onto one of those shuttle buses with everyone from the plane, only to drive a could hundred feet to the arrival terminal.  It was hilarious.  An older Polish couple sitting next to us laughed and said well, this is Poland!  It was cute.  A passport stamp and bag grab later, we were with Jonny and Lisa, bumping along the Polish highway toward the Czech Republic!  Only one stop for petrol and a bite at a Polish McDonald’s made us realize that Poland is certainly not how I ever imagined.  Maybe more on that later…dunno. 

So, we’re here.  It’s awesome.  Today will be fantastic.  Signing off. 

(It’s now after the whole day is through that I’m actually posting this online, so more posts later in the day. J  Lucky you, reader!)


Thursday, January 13, 2011

High Tea...and Sad Goodbyes

Tomorrow we leave London.  It's actually really sad for both of us.  We've loved every minute and I can't say that there are many things I miss about NYC while being here.  Of course I miss my friends and I miss my bed, but honestly there's something so inticing about this city I can't really put it into words.  You kind of just want to wander all the time...just to anywhere.  You're on old streets with rickety clanking stone sidewalks, bustling old ladies with hats and bags that look like they came from another era, and the charming taxis where drivers actually know every single road b/c of that gosh darn exam they're forced to take.  Anyway, it's just addictive that's all.  I'm excited to leave for the Czech Republic and some sweet times with Jonny & Lisa so I'm grateful for that.  I'll be sure to post lots of pix from that part of our trip, though I've been told the snow has melted away. (Major bummer.)

Yesterday I had afternoon tea with my classmates at the British Museum.  It was lovely and I'll definitely do it again.  I liked it much better than Harrod's--less pretentious and more yum.  Here's a shot of my treats.  I only had the scones because I was so stuffed after them that I couldn't think of eating the sweets...shame...

Doesn't it look to die for??  Yes, that's clotted cream! Woot!

Anyway, I really need to head to bed, but I did want to mention that Nathan & I ate yummy Indian food on Brick Lane, something I've always wanted to do.  I was warned it's terrible and for tourists but after much research, one of Nathan's coworkers and his wife found a great spot and was full of Brits.  Brilliant!  Off to bed.  Much love to you all.  Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

God Save the Queen!

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  It’s that terrible habit that if you miss a day, it becomes so much easier to miss many.  If I hope to keep this blog up, I need to do it every day.  (Discipline, Meredith. Discipline!)  Okay, okay! 

So, I want to talk a bit about Sunday because it was day two of our friends’ visit and we definitely took advantage of another tourist day, despite exhaustion from a full day prior. In the morning we decided to head out to Notting Hill before we searched for a place for breakfast hoping that it would save us time.  It turned out to be a great decision because we found an AMAZING bakery right when we got off the bus called Paul Rhodes Bakery (oh, and it is a new location I just noticed, when i looked up the site!).  Oh man. Delish. They had these funky milk bottle lights that reminded me strangely of the movie Runaway Bride where Julia Roberts plays an industrial designer.  Anyway  Here’s a picture of the amazing meringues (Don’t they look fantastic, Emma??):

We then walked along and I didn’t take a lot of cell phone pix, so I don’t have much for you.  I enjoyed Notting Hill and Portabella Market about as much as I did 8 years ago.  Really cute and diverse with a million things I’d buy if I didn’t have to haul them back to the States.  I came close to getting a couple fun prints, actually, but it didn’t make much sense.  If you’ve been to Notting Hill, you probably remember this one shop before you get to the market that sells a million “old fashion” (translate: weather worn) metal signs.  This one made me laugh pretty hard:

After we walked around quite a bit in the area through residential parts and such, we decided to head to Buckingham Palace before it got too late.  We grabbed a bit to eat at a pub off the Victoria Station stop and then walked through the beautiful gardens to the Palace. 

The lighting was perfect and it was nice to be in the sun most of the day.  Every day here has been cloudy basically, so it was a great break from dreary weather!  Anyway, we walked through the gardens, past geese, ducks and a few pelicans (??) to the palace itself.  So majestic.  Love.

At this point it was time to head back to our place so that Marc and Albert could get their luggage and head to the airport.  Nathan and I also had to head out to go see some family friends in the country.  It was so sad to say goodbye to Marc and Albert, but it’s okay.  We’ll see them again soon I hope.  Next time it’s Barcelona!!!!!! 

This week deserves a separate post which I will not do until tomorrow.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Random but AWESOME

I'm sure to everyone but me, this is old news, but T-Mobile has a fantastic ad campaign here in the UK using the flash mob style to promote the slogan "life's for sharing."  Here are my 2 favorite videos.  I've watched them too many times.  Haha!

London Heathrow: Terminal 5

One that's a bit older in Paddington Station. Love it.

That's all for tonight.  I'm zonked.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pubs, Parliament and Photos

I didn’t do a “real” post yesterday and I apologize.  It was a day full of chores and some slight British hilarity/annoyance as I got locked out of my flat for an hour as the cleaning woman took the keys and couldn’t be found.  I’m not kidding.

So, last night was a blast.  We went out to a local pub for drinks and such with Arup people.  I know hanging out with a group of engineers sounds like the last thing in the world you might want to do, but let me tell you it was great fun.  It might not have been too wise to have zero to eat before heading over there (why do I always do that!?), but either way, lovely conversation and lively crowd.  Later on, like around midnight, Albert & Marc arrive from the airport!!  We grabbed dessert and had a bit of a chat before crashing to sleep at about 3am…yikes.

The Larkin

Nate playing foosball at the pub with coworkers
Today was loads of fun.  We got up for a later start and grabbed an English breakfast at Russell Square Park right near the guys’ hostel.  It was decent, but of course the company was the best.  I do love me a great English breakfast, but the eggs were definitely lacking.  Oh well.  The beans were great.  After that, we head out toward Chelsea and Manresa Rd. (at King’s Road) to see my old apartment where I lived for 5 months in 2003.  I cannot believe that it really has been about 8 years since I did my internship at TIME.  Is that possible!?  Am I really 28 years old??!  Anyway, here’s a picture of the place today.  Looks exactly the same though a tad worn.

My old building.

Good old Manresa Rd.

Then we took the number 11 bus down King’s Rd through Victoria station all the way to Westminster Abbey where we got off and hit up the Abbey (looked, didn’t pay 14 GBP to walk in…lame!), the Parliament, Big Ben, & 10 Downing Street.  We then walked through to Trafalgar Square and enjoyed walking up through the Covent Garden area to see the shops including the world’s largest (and dare I say most gorgeous) Apple Store. 

On the 11 down King's Road--my old stomping grounds!


Apple Store: Covent Garden
We ate lunch, grabbed some coffee, as it was really chilly and windy, and then took a walk across the Waterloo Bridge just as the sun was setting.  It sets at 4pm basically, so anyway…

View of the Eye, Parliament and Big Ben

After we made it across, we walked along the Southbank until we go to the Tate Modern where we spent a bit over an hour looking at two different exhibits.  It was cool, and by the time we were finished it was pitch black out already.  Ick.  Oh, so the other day when I thought I was walking the Millennium Bridge, I was not.  I was on the Hungerford Foot Bridge.  Yeah….I’m a tad embarrassed by this, but at least I’m admitting it.  Today, I actually did cross the Millennium Bridge after we walked out of the Tate.  It was a nice walk and we then saw St. Paul’s Cathedral (designed by Sir Christopher Wren) and walked to the Tube to head back towards our flat.  I needed to do a bit of homework and we were starting to think that getting dinner before watching the Barca game would be a good idea. 

Tomorrow we will try to do Notting Hill, which I’m excited about and that might be all.  Marc & Albert leave and we will be heading out to see some family friends an hour outside the city.  Hope you enjoyed all the pix!  I’ll do my best to also post tomorrow evening, but I’m not sure of what my wifi ability will be. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mid-Day Photo Update

Had a little fun with a new photo app today.  Enjoy a few clips from my day of chores.

Laundry Time! (with homework and Walkers crisps of course)

A fun shot of a modern London bus on Upper Wooburn Place (our street).

Study spot.  No surprise.

The set up.  Ever had a Kit-Kat Chunky? Probably not the best name.

Start smooth... Filter Coffee = Drip

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Drag Queens and the Rain

Phew!  Today was one of the most colorful days so far since being here.  This morning I woke up early and finished the assignment I was supposed to have finished last night (oops).  After emailing it in and then getting to class early (go, me!), I was told that our afternoon activity was canceled due to the rain.  Argh.  Though it would have been so annoying to be out in the rain all afternoon, I don't think next week (when it's rescheduled) will be any better.  I digress... So, I ended up in the rain most of the afternoon anyway because a couple girls from my class and I went on the hunt for an Italian place our professor recommended.  Honestly, it was not worth the 45 walk it took us to find the place.  Not horrible, but really not awesome.  I headed back to the apartment and chilled for the first time since....before Christmas.  It was nice, but short.

Tonight was the real story.  This course happens every January and they always go to a play or musical as part of the class activities.  My professor gave Nathan a ticket as well so that he could come with us, so he did!  Yay!  Though it would have been nice to go to a more typical production, we went to one that probably is more in line with our coursework than the rest.  We saw Pricilla, Queen of the Desert.  Wow.  That's all I can say.  Once the shock of the whole scene wears off, it's an incredible production.  The costumes were amazing and the 'dancing in my seat the whole musical' kind of music was fantastic as well.  I really loved it.  Probably not the best to take kids to and probably not for the sensitive or easily offended type either--but, great nonetheless.  Oh, and if you didn't know, it's a musical about three drag queens and their bus (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) as they drive across the desert of Australia to do a show at a casino.  After class, we grabbed some dinner with a few people from class.

I really love some of these people who are in the course.  I've become good pals with a drama therapy MA, a higher education administration MA, a music therapy MA and also a girl from my year who's in the mental health and wellness MA program.  There are more but I don't want to go too crazy with my list.  I am having a great time and so glad that I decided to do this class.  This weekend I'm looking forward to Marc & Albert joining us for two days of fun-filled London touring...starting tomorrow!!!  Below is a picture of the theatre.  I'm pretty sure it's the place where Les Mis used to be shown.

I guess that wasn't the most interesting post. Oh well.  I don't want to skip a day b/c otherwise who knows if I'll post again, you know? Thanks for the messages many of you are sending me telling me you're reading!  Love it and love you!  Sweet dreams.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Look! There's an Emergency Exit!

  It's day five and things are starting to feel relatively normal here.  It's odd how you can just jump into another culture and just adjust.  It is possible that some of the reason I feel this way is because I've already had friends visit as well as the fact that I lived here for almost half a year back in my undergraduate days (and blogged most of it).  Either way, I love London and pretty much always have.  I wish that I took more pix on my iPhone to share with you all because today I walked through Covent Garden, to the Strand and right past my old office at Brettenham House on the way to the Waterloo Bridge.  What a rush of memories.  I commented to a classmate of mine that I am grateful that though filled with nostalgia, I'm not at all filled with regret or wishing for the past.  It was a rich time, and though filled with a fantastic mix of joy, success, and adventure, it was also a time of deep personal pain and confusion.  I even managed to get a marriage proposal in there as well. Haha! (Another story for another time...maybe.)

  So, back to the day's events.  I skipped over the fact that I went to class and it was good.  I learned more crazy stuff and have decided that taking notes is futile because all the information is mainly on the ppt anyway.  I learn more if I'm focused on the professor.  The morning walk to class was glorious and sunny (the sun was literally shining directly in my eyes the entire way) and I loved it.  I popped in my ear buds, grabbed at S'bux and made it to class early.  I even remembered to bring my clementines for break.  Yessss.  The class then headed off together to go on the London Eye.  That was the walk that took me by my old office building.  The Eye just reminds me of the Staton's engagement (NYC friends of ours), so of course I think I told their engagement story about 5 times this afternoon.  Everyone thought it was super romantic and cute.  (Props, Josh!)  The group of us all got to get our own pod in the Eye, so that was cool and basically all we did was ooohhh and ahhhhh for the full 27 minutes or whatever it took to get around.  I was just glad I didn't have to pay the 20 pounds to go on it.  It wasn't that exciting on such a grey, cloudy day.   A few people in the class are pretty scared of heights so having to quickly "jump aboard" freaked some of them out.  One guy was like "oh, good! There's an emergency exit!"  Yikes, what would that look like from the top of the world's largest ferris wheel??  Eeek!  Afterward, we walked accross the Millennium Bridge (built by Arup), crossed the Strand at Leicester Square and passed the National Gallery, which reminded me of Liz Zelie because we went there when she came to visit me in London 7 years ago.  I got some postcard stamps once we got back to the Bloomsbury area (where I'm staying) and then spent the rest of the evening doing homework and making dinner, etc.
  That's about it.  I did want to mention that I also had a FAB phone call from Kristi last night which was so nice.  Skype calls aren't too pricey to the UK cell we have.  Also, if you're on wifi and you're calling me on skype (username: meredithann), it's FREE!  Hope all is well with everyone.  Here are some pix of our flat.  Sorry for the poor resolution, but they were specifically requested by Heather. =)


This is the main living area.  I didn't take a shot from the other side, so this is half the room.

This is the cute kitchenette.  The microwave is also a convection oven.

The loo (taken from the windowed side by the toilet).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Friends for a Decade!

    Today was a great day.  The morning started right with breakfast together and each of us off to work or school.  Nathan had a pretty good day, but I won’t be blogging his work experiences since I wasn’t there…wouldn’t make much sense to tell it second hand.  Class went well.  Today we covered some basic epidemiology of HIV and then had a guest speaker from the Mortimer Market Centre, a clinic for people who are HIV+ here in the UK.  It was a lecture specifically on the aging population of HIV+ people, specifically in the UK, though it applied to those in the US as well.  Did you know that by 2015, 50% of people with HIV will be over 50 years old?  The speaker gave great information and great perspective.  No, I probably won’t be interacting much with this population in my work as a school counselor.  I do, however, interact with this population twice a week volunteering with my church at the Bailey-Holt House in Chelsea. 

    After class, my dear friend Mike Yates met up with me and we spend a few hours catching up while eating a yummy lunch and walking the crazy shopping scene down Oxford Street.  I managed to get a cheap UK phone so if you’d like to call or text, check my fb profile for the number!  Mike and I have been friends for the last 6 years about.  Later in the afternoon, we met up with another friend who had just flown in from Nigeria on his way back to the US, Nimi!  Nimi and I have been friends now for over nine years.  We met in college through Real Life, a Christian group I was part of and later worked for in Boston (I worked with Mike Yates, which is how Mike & I met).  Over nine years...that sort of freaks me out because that’s how long ago it was when I started my freshman year (Nimi was at MIT, not NU)!  Eeep!  I can’t be nearing 30….no, not me.  Haha! It was nice to catch up for a few hours and then head to my flat and enjoy a cuppa and conversation that per usual varied from economics, world politics, faith and everything in between.  A couple pictures of this fun time should be posted soon.

Hope all is well with you, my friends!  Let me know you’re reading and leave some love.  Sorry this post is vacant of any real cultural comments. Tomorrow’s touring with my class promises many interesting things to mention in the daily blog. 

Oh, one interesting thing: what the London NYU facilities look like. =)


Monday, January 3, 2011

"Did you get the other basket?" "What basket?"

It's day three and I'll try to make this update shorter.  Class went well.  It's a good group of people with wide variety of backgrounds (in life and in academic focus).  After our class (10am-1pm), we all headed to Wagamama for lunch.  Seriously yum.  Nathan and I did some grocery shopping and managed to forget half of the things we wanted to buy, in our second grocery basket...I think that we can safely blame jet lag for this one.  We then took advantage of our afternoon off and caught some exhibits at the British Museum, which is not only free, but just half a mile from our flat.  Seeing the Rosetta Stone and pieces of the Pantheon were definitely highlights.  I guess I should mention the ceiling in the Grand Hall as well, since it is architectural, artistic, and engineering feet which could best be enjoyed in daylight with some sun...of which we had none.  What was NOT a highlight: the Picasso exhibit that actually only had ONE Picasso.  Serious fail.  After that, we finished up the shopping we forgot, had a cuppa and snack then made dinner in our tiny flat, which was DELISH and much cheaper than a local restaurant.

I was given a link to a fantastic PBS program called The Age of AIDS that does a great job summarizing the pandemic from first cases in the US to current day.  If you want to be more in the know, I suggest watching.  It is in small "episodes" and could be watched over time if you don't have 250 minutes to dedicate to it. =)  Let me know if you watch and we can discuss!

Okay, time for bed.  Class tomorrow and Nathan's first day of work.

Oh, and it snowed today.  Loved it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Reminder to Self: Voltage is Different in the UK

Well, it is day two in London.  This morning I burned my hair with my overpowered hair dryer.  I mean it..I lost two big chunks of hair.  I didn’t cry and for that, I’m proud.   Feeling a bit dumb that I didn’t pay attention to the heat setting…yikes!  We also did a bit of exploring.  We had Nando’s for lunch (yum!) and bought some quick essentials at the overpriced market, because I needed to head back home to write my paper.  We then headed off to go to an evening service at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), which was just as awesome as it was 7 years ago when I attended for 5 months.  Tim Hughes leads their worship, which is kind of hilarious.  He’s so chill and relaxed that you forget he’s sold tons of albums.  I left Nathan there and skipped off to a reception for my course (explanation below) at a local pub.  It was a full day!

I probably ought to explain why it is that Nathan and I are here.  The main reason is that I am taking a course at NYU London during our January Intersession called HIV Prevention & Counseling.  It’s going to be fantastic and draining, I can already tell you that.  My first paper is due the first day of class, tomorrow at 10am.  Since volunteering at the Bailey-Holt House in Chelsea for the past (almost) year and a half, I’ve become more and more aware of the impact HIV/AIDS has had on our culture as a whole as well as the impact it continues to have on my generation and youth in the US.  Anyway, a round about way of saying that I feel like I need to understand more and our professor is a well-respected and well-published leader in the field.  Stay tuned for more on that.  Nathan decided to ask his London-based company if he could work remotely in their London office for the two weeks I’m here.  They said yes, so here we are!  They’ve set up an itinerary for Nathan’s time here, including a couple field work visits, some presentations on his work in the NY office, and a trip to their Leeds office where a lot of wastewater engineering work takes place—an area of high interest for Nathan.  Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday so he doesn’t go to work, but I start class.  No fair! 

Okay, that was long.  Expect that from me, though.  I tend to write A LOT when I blog.  Time for sleep!  Looking forward to a fun and full week that will include class, seeing Mike Yates, seeing some Spanish friends, and also doing as much sightseeing as we can fit in!!....


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Made it!

We arrived without any trouble this evening at Heathrow.  All our bags were in order and it was a basically painless Underground trip to our flat where we will be staying the next two weeks.  We checked in and grabbed Indian from a place around the corner. (the only place open)  Headed to bed.  Super exhausted.  Maybe it has something to do with less than four hours of sleep last night...

Night! xx