29 June 2009

Greece I

Me, Anna, Grant on the Ferry before it embarked. That is Athens behind (in front?) of us.
The wonderful Grecian sunset from a very windy pinnacle.
Anna, Kristin, Grant at our favorite Greek restaurant. Grant looks so surprised because I was able to identify the 'power' button apart from the 'take picture' button.

After checking into our Paradise, we got some tasteful Greek food at the al fresco patio across the semi-paved road separting our nudist colony from the other thirteen residents of Mykonos. Situated on the patio, thankfully, was a restaurant serving traditional Greek dishes and a menu written in Greek, English, and a third language that could only be identified as Elfish. We had such a good experience at the restaurant that we returned for dinner, and then for dinner the next day too. Between those meals we rested on the sands of the Mediterranean in a tranquil and bronzing state. At one point we heard some blistering club music coming from the bar area, and we sent Grant to go check it out. He came back with only the phrase, "We'd better put on our blindfolds if we are going to go over there." I'm not sure how that differed from any other part of our beach, but nonetheless we did not venture to the barscene in order to find out.
The smooth and dulcet ripples of the Mediterranean were as gallant as the bar wasn't, and the chaisse lounges were longitudinally sufficient and stretched to hammock-perfection. I was quite surprised at how cold the water was, but on a 34~ centigrade day it was still preferred over the vertiginous sunshine baking its unworthy bathers. The climate of Greece is very arid. It is dry like a cell phone should be-but isn't always-such as when you drop it in the toilet while you are texting or you forget to take it out of your pocket when you put your jeans in the washer or when you get thrown into a pool (while it's still in your pocket) by your best friend on April Fool's Day. When those don't happen, your phone is pretty dry- like Greece! We, The Greece Crew, (as we called ourselves) watched the sunset from a hilltop after dinner and the beach. It provided a great homily to the day, not unlike an Even Song at Westminster Cathedral. From the beach to the sea to the cordial crest we reverenced the day and repented of all the nudity. The first day in Greece was adventurous and classically fecund.

27 June 2009

An Introduction to the Paradise Hostel

Thank goodness for chaste women protecting their menfolk! What a great place!
There was copious amounts of space in our barrack! We just didn't even know what to do with all our stuff! The white walls were really well done, too.
Does this help you see what type of caliber our hostel was?

The adventuresome thing about hostels is that they run the whole gamut and you can never be sure what your accommodations are going to be when you reserve a living quarter (notice my careful choice of words there. See below). When we made the reservation for Mykonos we figured a hostel named "Paradise" must be an Elysium. What we learned, however, was that paradisiacal preferences are as varied as the hues of white available from Benjamin Moore. For instance, had we been gay nudists, the Paradise resort truly would have been idyllic! But, being straight raiment-ers, the setting was less than perfect. That is correct, our beach was a gay nude beach. How did we overlook that when we made our reservations? Alternatively, it's possible that the Grinch was just on Mykonos and stole all the clothes, so the naked men held hands to cope and to sing? I wouldn't rule it out, anyway. Well, when in Rome do as the Romans... so...
The theme of the trip was A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E and that's what we got. We got so much of it you'd think we were at an all-you-can-eat buffet serving adventure, adventuresome, adventurous and adventured. (That was a David original and it might get deleted before final publication.) When we saw our living quarter we were less than impressed. It wasn't much of a room, or anything for that matter. I think my window frame is bigger and less revealing than our room was. I'm impressed that they even fit two beds in there. I would describe our "twin bedroom" as a a bunker/barrack/Scout camp/trench/rabbit hole. It was in the beach camping division of the Paradise Hostel, and indeed our neighbors slept in roomy tents. Our campsite mates were the Senegalese beach vendors. It was ironic to get hawked a pair of sunglasses at 14:00 and then sleep next to the same guy at 20:00. The windows had some really fancy wooden slabs over them, and there was blood on the wall. The girls' one light didn't work, and amazingly we got the internet! It's funny to be offered the internet but not room for your suitcase.

26 June 2009

The Grecian Aeroport

The Mediterranean Sea! If you look really closely you can see another island. I think maybe its Australia.
The Greece Crew: Anna, Kristin, Grant. Unfortunately I had just falled off the ledge right when the friendly Thai man took this picture for us.
Kristin's legs and me watching the Grecian sunset on our first evening.

After our Eiffel-tastic time in France, we ventured to Greece.
Our Aegean Flight #617 (Boston What What) was splendid and more than I ever imagined. A very attractive stewardess brought us delectable mints before we even took off, and the flight was so sparce you'd have thought the Swine Flu was onboard. We moved to an exit row and indulged in copious legroom. During the flight we (er, rather I think I was the only one on the whole plane) watched Pink Panther II. The flick made me laugh so hard I almost needed my oxygen mask released just to get enough inhlation. The dinner was a great Greek pasta dish with a buttered roll, some crackers and cheese, chocolate cake, and my favorite- a simple Greek salad. It was so simple it didn't even have lettuce- just a tomato, feta cheese, and a tomato.
Because our plane was landing at 23.50 and we were to report at the port with port at 6.35 -after taking an hour long dark, public bus ride, the X96, departing at 5.00- we really didn't see much use in reserving a hostel room. Luckily, it is the off sesason so we were able to get a nice room ensuite at the aeroport. We scoped out the entire aeroport and debated between sleeping on padded chairs, the couches at McDonald's, or the carpeted floor of a little nook next to the complimentary Chapel. The aeroport museum entrance was also enticing due to the classical music being played, but some other vagabonds beat us to it. There were people-not a few- sleeping all over the place all night. We decided we live by the Church, so we might as well live by it as well. (That was a Shakespearean play on words, thanks to Twelfth Night.) We found a little enclosed room next to Chapel that looked the most appropriate for our mixed gender accommodations. We had our own bathrooms, altars, and four walls with great windows viewing the security checkpoint and the duty free shop. Unfortunately, despite our lethargic conditions, the floor of the cranny was reminiscent of sleeping on a stale piece of moldy bread; the mold being compared with the carpet, including color, scent, and comfort level. The ground was unbecoming and crumbly. In addition, the temperature of the room began warm and Athenian, but quickly turned cool, then even quicker to ice chest levels. I have never wished for 4.35 to come so quickly in my entire life. I think I got .5 hours of restless sleep in three hours of attempts. One of my travel companions decided to wrap herself in scarves like a mummy in order to avoid any skin contact with the carpet. She was the only one who woke up without Leprosy. The last fantastic experience of the evening/morning was the matudinal Christians who had to step over us to pray, as if Beelzebub himself were throwing dead bodies in front of them in an attempt to stop their worship. At least we didn't have to worry about our baggage being stolen.
When the alarm clock finally clanged 4.35 we were all already awake and thrilled to have an excuse to release ourselves from the buttery moss of the carpet. As we changed clothes and burned our soiled pajamas, my brother made the optimistic comment that made the whole night worth it: “Well, I sure am impressed with the Christian worshipers between 1.00 and 3.00 AM at the Athens Aeroport Church!” How true it was- there were several people that stepped on us to get to their Church during those brief, wee morning hours. Between sticky carpet, stiff beds, pedestrian traffic, and no sleep, our first night in Athens was certainly an adventure.

24 June 2009

Le Hotel de Invalides, French Pasteries, and Some Final Tips for Visiting Paris

The Hotel for Invalides. Or, as I like to call it, the Shrine to Napoleon, built by Napoleon. It houses his six coffins.

Sarah: Are you enjoying your crepe Wallace?

Wallace: Yes, Sarah, very much so.

We really were this happy. It's funny what a six week theatre study abroad will do to you...

Our last day in Paris was as all last days in Paris should be: Rainy. It rained and rained and rained and we only had one umbrella, which was made for a four-year-old with a really small head. Ergo, we knew an indoor activity was in order. We opted on the site of Napoleon- Le Hotel de Invalides. I don't actually think it had a 'Le' in front of it, but it sounds French so I threw it in there. It wasn't much of a hotel either, for that matter. And what the heck is an invalide? Napoleon was buried in six coffins, which seems a little obsessive to me, but whatever floats your boat, right? Six coffins would certainly not float a boat. In addition to the coffin we saw several museums that were all attached to the crypt. I am now an expert on trench warfare, meaning I saw some pictures of trenches with tomato plants growing in them. After the museums we ate more French pasteries. Oh man they were good. I bought a loaf of bread and a maple eclair, and I ate them both. Everyday we were in Paris we ate either crepes or pasteries. The French call bakeries 'patisseries', which just seems boastful and superfluous to me. Anywho, unless you have eaten a banana and Nutella crepe made in front of you on a Parisian street, you don't know what it feels like to have Nutella all over your face and extremities, including in your ear and between your shod toes. After I ate one on the littoral Seine I found Nutella in my belly-button. How it got there is beyond me, but frankly I'm glad my belly-button got to experience what my mouth had been enjoying for days. It's just not fair that the exterior of your stomach gets the shaft whilst its darker side delights. Nutella is the 8th wonder of the world; it's rumored you can even see Nutella from space. One more note on Paris, completely unrelated to eclairs, fire extinguishers, or Nutella: The metro system smells like pee because homeless men pee in it. We saw it. We also saw a man who had overdosed on the subway. He looked kind of like how we looked after OD'ing on French phyllos, but with more blood-shot eyes and a lack of neck musculature. Mostly I just wanted to use the word musculature there. If you see stalactites growing out of the Metro advertisements, don't lick them. They are very salty.

23 June 2009

The Eiffel Tower

The only reason this picture is blurry is because the passion was so incredible the lens fogged up. This is the top of The Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower at dusk from afar.
The Eiffel Tower up close in the PM.

The Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower. I could continue, but I won't. On Sunday, after being seduced by the Tower for the two nights previous, we succumbed to its majesty and approached the goddess with compassionate anticipation. We had already seen her delicate frame from several different vantage points, including from underneath, from boat, from far, and during the height of her sparkle. Each viewing called us closer to the top with greater magnetism- until the Sabbath, when we went to pay our respects to Aphrodite at the peak of Mount Eiffel. The queue was drawn out, but lovely due to the Parisian Spring air. Couples cavorted canorously on the grounds beneath the Tower; Cupid presiding over all the merry festivities. The lift inside the North tower took us heavenward to our Cloud Nine, where we emerged full of life, love, and urbane hearts ready to let loose. The views were panoramic, our delight pandemonic, and the word 'tenet' palindromic. (A more appropriate palindrome, perhaps, is "Won't Lovers Revolt Now?") All of Paris was in the eye of the beholder, and therefore beautiful. Each angle was different and equally pulchritudinous. Everything was within our grasp, had it not been for the fence prohibiting our passion. There are a lot of 'P' words in this post aren't there? Phantastic! As the first photograph professes, there was some lovin' at the top of The Eiffel Tower. But really, how could we not? Paris... The Eiffel Tower... Love... Smooching... they go together like chocolate and bananas on a crepe. I would definietly recommend kissing a beautiful woman at the top of The Eiffel Tower.
For four minutes, at 23:00 and 00:00 every night The Eiffel Tower sparkles in a truly spectacular fashion that cannot be described to those who have not witnessed it. It is like your Birthday, Christmas, President's Day and Valentine's day all at once! We loved The Eiffel Tower so much we went back every night to watch it sparkle, and we ate crepes and pasteries for the entire hour between twinkling. Oh how I love Paris!

21 June 2009

The Church Tour

A portion of the Glass at The Chapped Saint. I believe this was Song of Solomon?
The Moulin Rouge. Me. Little children. Grey and white shirt.
Sacre-Coeur, the basilica. That white statue in the corner was a live person. Live for now anyway.
Our third day in Paris was just as all third days in Paris should be, sunny and sacred. It was Sunday so we thought it would be appropriate to go to Church. Normally we would go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but on this particular occasion we didn't know exactly where it was and we still didn't speak French. Instead, we did a Church tour of Sacre-Coeur and Sainte Chapelle. Sacre-Coeur is a basilica perched atop a French hill. Tourists dripped down its mountainous sides, teeming with sweat as they purchased jimcrack for no other purpose than to make the customs declaration queue longer for the rest of us. The basilica- whose name translation is Sacred Heart- had the most gorgeous mosaic of Jesus Christ in the rear interior dome. It was bold and conflated brilliantly. After the Church we walked with our blinders on to The Moulin Rouge, which wasn't really an appropriate Sunday activity. We'll leave it at that. Then off to Sainte Chapelle! The Chapped Saint, as I call it when I am feeling cixelsyd, is a cathedral with approximately 18 different stained class window segments telling the entire story of the Bible, from Genesis 1 to the Cruxifiction and the the Apocalypse. Very stunning. Previous to this third day, which I have not made mention of ...yet... was a river cruise down the Seine. For only five Euros ($7) we motored down the river at sunset for an hour. We saw all the sights from the water, including The Berlin Wall, Machu Picchu, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the Taj Mahal. I was really impressed with how much they were able to fit in to such a short amount of time and a limiting river. Those French are pretty amazing! When the cruise wrapped up we got some Nutella and bananananananana crepes and gazed fixedly on the Tower twinkle. The Eiffel Tower deserves a lengthy post of its own, which you should expect soon.


Yes, that car really is about to hit me. Yes, that car really did hit me. Consider it a triumph at the Arc for the French.
I decided to stick it to them with my Hawai'i shirt, showing Europe that we too have beautiful things! They just aren't as old.
Thomas and Kristine and the Gardens of Versailles.

The second day in Paris we left Paris, for Versailles. She was a little jealous at first, but was able to get over it fairly quickly. It was a bright and lively day in Versailles as we marched to the palace. Unfortunatley China decided to take a fieldtrip to Versailles on the same day we were there, so the queue to purchase tickets virtually started at the train station 1/2 mile down the road. I think it may have even extended into the train, which was nice because it was drastically reduced once the train left. We took shifts in the 1.5 hour sunbathing experience called a line before we had to sell our kidneys to pay for the limited access entrance fee. With tickets in hand we traipsed to the security queue, and further on to the palace entrance to begin the self guided tour through the Hall of Mirrors, the King and Queen's chambers, the Chapel, the dining room, and some other magnificently gilded rooms. In the palace was everything you would imagine the Sun King would need, except for a flush toilet and a toothbrush. Enormous paintings relaxed proudly on the walls of the Palace and drew the peons' gaze vertically and horizontally, due to their ambitious capaciousness. The most impressive of these rooms was the oversized war room, which was filled from head to foot with artwork depicting great French conquests dating as far back as the 14 century. In the The Hall of Mirrors hung halycon chandelliers whose illuminations were "shamed as daylight doth a lamp" by the effulgence of the sunlight stroking the mirrors through the opposing wall cavities. One side of the hall was all mirrors, and juxtaposed to every collection of mirrors was a corresponding window. A very effective strategy and a sight to behold. It was so bright even a blind man (or woman) could have seen and enjoyed the spectacle. When we saw all that our left kidneys would buy us, we peeked at the gardens and strolled into town for sandwiches and a nap. We found a comfortable cobblestone street outside a church to nap on, and dreamt of swimming in moats and wearing gym shorts while skinning rabbits. After Versailles we went back to Paris, just as she knew we would, and saw the Arc de Triumph, the Eiffel Tower from far- and up close, and ate dinner on Champs Elysees. They were all enjoyable and fantastic things to do in Paris. The Arc de Triumph has a dizzying five lane highway rotating around it. I was very glad I did not have to navigate five lanes of French drivers to get to the Arc (there was an underground tunnel, as most tunnels are, to the hub of the road) and that I didn't need to participate in the highway via automobile. Champs Elysees was artistic and busy and interesting due to its diversity and fancy shops.

19 June 2009

The Paris Ratio, Sunsets, the Louvre

Venus de Milo, craning her neck to see who took her arms; and trying to figure out how to keep her robe on without opposable thumbs.
Sarah and I, watching the sunset from the Seine.

Thomas and I at the glass pyramid portion of The Louvre.
One that first day, after Notre Dame and a French pastery, we snoozed at the hotel until early evening and then headed back into town to experience The Louvre. We bee-lined it first to the Mona Lisa, and admired it through eighty people, six inches of nuclear bomb-proof glass, and two museum curators. Despite all the obstructions I still managed to maintain five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact with Mona, which really told me a lot about her. Then it was off to the Venus de Milo, the Raft of Medusa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, Michelangelo's Slaves, the inverted glass pyramid, and the medieval moat, among other things. After a few hours we were getting hangry* and unanimously decided to leave in search of gastronomical nourishment. We did not anticipate the labyrinthian nature of the museum, however, and we were drastically ill-prepared for our egress. I asked two docents who didn't speak English but ironically did know the English words, "You are trying to get out? HAHAHA, good luck suckaaaaas!" Without a compass or GPS, we felt helpless as the builders of Babel. Unintentionally we started making circles around the Egypt collection, going up and down endless stairs praying for tutelary powers. Just at the point of cannibalism, which decision came while in the Dutch Paintings wing, we saw a sign for an emergency exit. We could not think of any greater emergency so we bolted for the doors and surprisingly found no way out- but there was a Starbucks. With some liquid fuel in us we re-voted on the cannibalism decision, and thankfully it was struck down 3 to 1. After 1,000 more stairs and two buildings later, we emerged from The Louvre having seen only a tiny portion of its caverns, but knowing eachother a whole lot more than we did when we first went in. My advice for any future Louvre-ites is to make sure you have enough food and water to last you 72 hours, bring a GPS, and even consider hiring a guide dog. After The Louvre we ate at a nice Parisian restaurant, where I was introduced to the Paris Ratio. The Paris Ratio is this: There is a direct correlation (in Paris) between how much your meal costs and how much food you are going to get. If you order an expensive quiche with a salad, expect to get one piece of romaine lettuce with a tomato seed and a single mini quiche from Costco. Don't expect anything more than a 6 oz sippy cup for your water, either. After our late dinner we walked down to the Seine and sat on a lovely stone bridge and watched the 22:00 sunset. It birthed jollity and romance in the four of us. Watching a spectacular solar sphere set silently seems simple, sometimes, but breathtakingly beautiful beside babes being blatantely bewitching. (Booyah!) The sunset on the Seine from a bridge next to great friends is as satisfying (maybe even more) than putting exactly the right amount of water in your instant oatmeal so that it cooks perfectly. Yep, I really, really like Paris.
*Hangry (noun): The state of being angry due to extreme hunger.

18 June 2009

The Chunnel to Notre Dame

Me and Kristin at the top of Notre Dame. We tried to get through the Jurassic Park style fencing, but ended up just getting our heads stuck. Rather embarrasing.
Notre Dame, and the people of Notre Dame.
One view from Notre Dame, this one of the Eiffel Tower.
When my London study abroad ended, I travelled with some friends to Paris, France. The cheapest Chunnel was at 5:25, so unnaturally we booked it. I was out until after the Witching Hour the previous night at the 12 Bar Club taking in some live English Rock and Roll, so it was a pretty short night. Virtually all my post-London adventures could be characterized by short nights, this being the first of many. The Paris crew was me, my brother, and two beautiful girls who flattered us with their presence in the city of Love. The Chunnel experience should have probably been unforgettable, but I was comatose for the entire trip and therefore remember nothing except falling asleep in London and waking up in Paris despite not moving at all. It was kind of like a twisted time warp or something trippy like that. When the train stopped the first sounds of Paris in my ears were angry Strikers. Who knows what they were complaining about in French, but my first audible impression of Paris, from the train, was that either I had forgotten to cancel the pep band I had previously ordered to greet us or I was witnessing the inception of the Third World War. The Gare de Nord train station was packed and I was really grateful I was with someone who spoke French. Oh wait, none of us spoke French, I just wished we did so bad I began to believe it. Somehow we made it to our hotel nearly before the sun rose (keep in mind we were on the 5:25 train) and laughed at in a way only the French can do when we asked if we could check in. They did, however, let us stash our luggage while we sight saw on two hours of sleep. We went into town and ate some incredible street sandwiches made in such a way only the French can do. We perambulated to Notre Dame and explored the inside of the Cathedral. With time to kill before our actual check in time, we made the unanimous decision to wait in the queue for the tower tour. It ended up being a 1 hour queue, but really we were grateful because it prepared us for the queues we would face later on. The dark, circular 400 steps to Quasimodo's lair were un-portentious, which made the pie in the sky all the more scenic. When I first emerged from the tower and looked out over Paris I had an emotion come over me that could be crudely classified as, classy, 1920's-esque, artistic, and splendiferous. It was at the top of Notre Dame that I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time. It rose above the polite Paris skyline like a church spire welcoming all of France to worship in its balmy ironworks. It was a stolid protrusion standing erect over the palleted colour of its lowly neighbors. It was magnificent, brilliant, splendid, and all encompassing in a matter of microseconds. To me it was more than a tower, it was an Eiffel Haven. Oh how I love the Eiffel Tower.

Editor's Note

To all my Blog Readers:
This is a note from the editor. The editor is David Wallace Bennett. Here is the note: My adventures in Paris and Greece have been- and continue to be- memorable, adventuresome and very blog worthy. I could spend thirty posts describing the happenings and still not cover anything, so but I will probably try anyway. Therefore, this is a warning that starting next week there will be an influx of mass posts on my blog, so check back often. I have been on the Greek island of Mykonos this week and away from the interwebs, which is why I have been absent in the Blogosphere. But, expect great things very soon. Love, the editor. David Wallace Bennett is the editor.

11 June 2009

Leaving London Longingly, Perusing Paris Peacefully, Grazing Greece Gracefully

My time in London is done. It has been unbelievable, but all good things must come to an end (except for souls and eternal families). Tomorrow morning I am off to Paris, France for four days and then continuing on to Athens and Mykonos, Greece for five days. I will travel by train, plane, ferry, scooter, and feet. If I can squeeze an elephant ride or dolphin ride in there, I will travel that way, too. I cannot summarize my London adventures any more than I already have because the expereiences were defined by people, and describing people is like trying to decipher between an aged cheese and a moldy cheese. However, in anticipation of people asking me what my favorite thing in London is, I will proclaim it loud and clear here: My favorite thing in London is the water pipes. They are extensive, old, and very well run. They are painted a gorgeous hue of white as well. Truly a spectacle. My second favorite thing is Parliment. The House of Parliment is attached to the majestic and powerful Big Ben, which rises triumphantly over the Thames and informs all of London that, indeed, they are late. Outside the building there are Sri Lankans galore and police officers with Cambodian-made machine guns. Inside the building there are golden statues, starry ceilings, MPs galore, very expensive things, and classical costumes. To be able to watch legislature happen right before your eyes is a debatable joy, and the building really made everything worth it. Honestly, I cannot think of anything I didn't enjoy doing in London (except for being stung by a bee in my sleep). Whenever I was with The Muscle or the Girls, we had a good time. I thoroughly enjoyed making new friends and spending a phenomenal six weeks with them in one of the World's greatest capitals- London. London, I heart you. As for now, don't expect a post for a few weeks because I will be romancing under the Eiffel Tower and sunbathing in the Mediterranean Sea.

10 June 2009

The Wedding

This past weekend I flew home- from London to Boston and back- to do my laundry. It's just getting so darn expensive over here and its very inconvenient to do laundry, so I thought I would be better off doing it at home. And lucky for me I did! It just so happened, unbeknown to me, that my sister was getting married in Boston that same weekend! Ha, it's the luck o' de Walrus! It was also fortunate that my suit was dry cleaned and I had a matching tie with all the other men in the wedding. The time change was crazy and brief, meaning I went to bed at 20.30 and woke up at 5.15 both mornings, but it was still worth it. I like my new brother-in-law and his moderately sized family, and the wedding day was a typical, Boston June day. The sun broke about noon for the luncheon and stayed crisp and warm all through the al fresco reception at 18.00. The reception was help at some family friends' and there were floating candelabras in the pool (well, actually they were just candles) and crepes galore. Spinach and cheese crepes, ham and cheese crepes, and fruit and fruit crepes. I had no less than one of each variety before deciding which one was the sweetest (the fruit ones), which one was the healthiest (the spinach ones) and which one was the least vegetarian (the ham ones). I got to see many friends from many places of many tan hues and skirt lengths. I got to interact with my new brother-in-law's brother, which consisted of a high five and a strange poetical reading contest, and I got to be with my immediate family. The wedding was a success and I am glad it coincided perfectly with my laundry schedule. By the way, you have to say that word "sed-jewel" like the British. With two sisters married, I am finally first in line to inherit he family fortune! AAAAHHHHH. Ok, it's getting late.

Ox Fording Oxford

As Stratford-Upon-Avon fell into the Avon, thus changing its name to Stratford-At The Bottom Of-Avon, we took our coach to Oxford. Oxford must harbor intelligent people because the very idea of the campus was light years ahead of me. Apparently the university is composed of several different colleges that are spread out all over the town, each bearing the name "College of Cheese Making" or something like that. Each college had a separate fee to enter, which probably goes toward funding the cheese tasters as opposed to a tuition stipend. Anyway, I made the most of my time there; I visited the Oxford University Press and got a free copy of the Abridged-to-fit-in-your-pocket-Oxford-English-Picture-Dictionary-For-Kids, and I climbed to the top of a bell tower. From the top I could see the entire town as if I were playing Quidditch. I also went to the Oxford Museum which was a laugh and a half. It told the entire history of the town of Oxford, from the creation of the world (there was seriously some stuff about the geography of the area, such as the soil and rocks) up to 1975. Apparently they don't know anything about Oxford post 1975 because the museum just stopped telling history after that. It wouldn't have surprised me to learn there was a terrible tsunami or snowstorm in 1975 that gave everyone amnesia so that they are stuck in that year. The last room of the museum was all about fashion, entertainment and food in the Seventies, and everything in the museum had a Seventies-esque aura about it. There was a movie that was made on a £6 budget as well. For example, in the movie they showed a still frame of ChristChurch, only to have a big, double-decker, red bus drive right through the majority of the scene. In another still shot of The College of Ark Building there was an Asian tourist wheeling a suitcase through the entire picture. We laughed so hard the museum docent had to come around and scowl at us. Oxford was great, though. A beautiful city with history, confusing colleges, a press for books (not wine) and no oxen. After the trip we took our coach back to London and wrapped up the day.

06 June 2009


Stratford-Upon-Avon is the small hamlet in England where William Shakespeare was born, approximatley a billion years ago before they knew that it was possible to write words without apostrophes. Not only did we see his abode, but we also saw his mother's farm and fed her goats while she was on holiday, we saw his daughter's home and learned of his son-in-law's medicinal practices including penicillin and open heart surgery with a stick and some sap, we visited his granddaughter's house, and finally his wife's home. They all had short ceilings, were wastefully uninhabited, and within walking distance of each other. In addition to these glamorized wigwams we saw the River Avon, two Shakespeare productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare's grave inside his church, some schoolchildren doing brass rubbings, and a hand-crank boat. My favorite thing about Stratford-Upon-Avon, however, was the Bed and Breakfast we stayed at. Yum yum yum yum yum (say it outloud with voice inflection, like the 'yums' are waves). Our full English breakfast included granola, fruit, orange juice, milk, toast, marmalade, eggs, mushrooms, tomatos, bacon, sasuage, a piece of parsley, a Hugh Grant appearance, a Shakespeare performance, and last but not least, an appeareance by her Majesty the Queen. They weren't messing around when they said it would be FULL English breakfast. My overall impression of Stratford-Upon-Avon was that for a quaint town, there wasn't much to do but celebrate the life of Shakespeare, and eat.

05 June 2009

Shakespearean Weddings in Castles at Oxford

Shakespearean weddings in castles at Oxford could, theoretically, exist since there is a large shopping area in Oxford called "The Oxford Castle" (including a Krispie Kreme to cater) as well as some Shakespearean stuff like books. However, such a wedding did not exist while I was there. Before Oxford, I rode a matudinal coach to Warwick Castle, Kenilworth Castle, and Stratford-Upon-Avon. I was thinking Kenilworth Castle would be a glorified kennel for worthy dogs, but it turns out it's actually legit castle ruins. Not too legit to quit, however, because the castle was nearly gone, but still legit in a 'ruins' sort of way. I enjoyed the exterior wall, the hidden caverns that became much less cool after we learned they were the latrines, and The Queen's Garden named after the Prince of Persia. After that castle we meandered over to Warwick Castle. If Castles could speak Spanish, Warwick Castle would have said, "Hola! Me llamo Warwick Castle. Yo soy una FIESTA (por ninos)!" We saw a falcon show, a dragon show, a princess, a trebuchet, a gurgling brook, a sword in a stone, a spoon in a stone, and an archery show. There may also have been a cool sprinkler and some "Please keep off the grass" signs, but they weren't as memorable as the dueling dragons. The castles were great, but still my favorite aspect was the gorgeous scenery that made up the backdrop. Stratford-Upon-Avon will have to wait upon another day, and Oxford will be recounted later as well. And there's a wedding tomorrow that will requite some commenatary.