Sunday, April 10, 2011

026 - I see London, I already saw France. Now just about those underpants.'s been quite a week, hence the lack of a post in just over a week. But that's almost better, it gave me a chance to get some stuff done (term paper and whatnot) and enjoy being in Rome before my stellar weekend in London.

A quick recap of my happenings before London. Maybe it was the fact that we flew out to London thursday night, rather than friday morning as most travelers do, but this past week went 'molto' fast. I'll do my best to remember what I got myself into.

Sunday, I remember that day quite well. Though I slept in a bit because of few of us were out late at the local 'watering hole,' just sitting, talking, having a grand ol' time. Anyway, Sunday I decided to take a "Me Day" and head down to the Via del Corso area for some shopping, I needed to finishing getting some souvenirs for the family. I will tell you I had a blast walking around by myself and seeing the sights. Probably the favorite thing I bought was a painting from P. Navona, I am normally not a fan of art, but I figure I'm here, why not immerse myself in the culture? Also bought a few of your more touristy items, postcards, etc. Being here for so long I feel like I am no longer a tourist, I spoke Italian to all the shop keeps, which they responded well too but still could tell I was American. Overall it was a good day, nice weather, and you know me...I love to spend those Euros.

Monday was your typical Monday, if your mondays consist of going to the center of an ancient city and learning about the ancient culture and seeing ruins for class. Yup had another on sight class. It's so great to get out of the class room every now and then. Can't believe I've only got 3 more weeks of class before finals!

Let's move to wednesday. Aside from churning out a 4 page paper for PolySci in 2 hrs. It was also Calcio game night. Game of the week. Green (us) vs. Lime (them). It was a defensive battle to say the least. Lime took a 2-0 advantage in to halftime. It ended up staying at that same score until 3 min left, when we managed to squeeze one by the Lime keeper. With time ticking away, I decided to take a risk, upon making an easy save, I dropped the ball and began to dribble up to midfield and passed it off to Conor, we had it in the Lime zone for a number of seconds I was looking to get the ball back and take a shot, but Lime got control so I hustled back to the goal, I was able to make it back in time but was off balance when a Lime player shot. Final score 3-1 Lime. So they will take the regular season crown with us taking 2nd.  It's all in good fun though, hoping to make a nice playoff run, much like my Green Bay Packers.

Thursday. I know I went to class, but I was so jazzed for London I'll be honest I was paying no attention (sorry Mom). After dinner we took a cab to Ciampino airport. It took quite a while because of Roman Rush hour (which is basically all the time). Got to the airport with plenty of time, flight was normal, got in a few minutes early to London. BUT there's a little thing called Immigration...and the UK is a lot like the USA and they take it verrrrry seriously. Took about 50 minutes to get through customs. Afterward we had to get us some British Pounds, because they are lame and don't use the euro. The exchange rate for dollars to pounds is worse than to euros. But things in London weren't too terribly priced. Anywho, at this point its about 1am and we hop on the last train out from Stansted Airport to the London City center. Arriving at Liverpool Street at about 1:45 we had to then catch a night bus (not Knight Bus for you HP fans) to our hostel near King's Cross. We finally got checked in at about 2:15am in the world's smallest room ever. It had two beds for the three of us, obviously the two Katie's took the large bed and I bunked up on the cot. It was wildly uncomfortable, and the pillow was about as thick as tissue paper. But its all part of the experience right?

Friday we got up at a reasonable hour and headed to the Underground station, upon buying day passes (because one ride on the Underground is 4 pounds and a day pass was 6 pounds, it just made sense) we took the Tube to Leicester Square, had breakfast at at quaint British Cafe. I had my first bagel in over 3 months, needless to say it was glorious. Now since this is the theatre district we hit up one of the discount ticket vendors. Tickets for Les Miz were all sold out (it's a pretty legit musical, and one of the few I can actually tolerate) so instead we got tickets for We Will Rock You; a musical that used exclusively music from Queen. Next it was on to Trafalgar Square, I guess it's the most famous square in London (side note: the Brits call them squares, the Italians call them Piazza...i hear a Brit on the plane call it Navona Square...oh dio mio) There was a big countdown clock for the 2012 Olympics in the square, all the preparation for the games has got pretty much the entire city under construction, that was kind of annoying. We saw Big Ben and the Parliament building, Westminster and the London eye. (Funny story, I gave Katie S. a pound to go up to people at ask them for the time while we were RIGHT IN FRONT OF BIG BEN, everyone she asked looked at their watches or said they didn't have the was funny, trust me) We had more important things to do, get lunch at the only Chipotle in europe. EPIC. Next it was on to the Tower of London, where such prisoners as St. Thomas Moore, Anne Boleyn, Jane Grey, and my favorite Guy Fawkes were executed. The Tower Bridge, Globe Theatre and the Millennium Bridge were among out next stops. It was then about time to head back to the hostel briefly to regroup before dinner and the show. We didn't have much time to eat so we grabbed fish and chips quickly at a pub.
       The show was crazy awesome, it was more a rock concert with a little bit of acting than a musical, and since it was all rock I enjoyed it throughly. Now since London basically shuts down at midnight we did not have much time to enjoy a pint of cider at a near by pub. Cider is delicious, it's not bitter like beer, its a sweeter ale in a way. And not going to mess you up too badly, though many locals we could tell had a few too many.

Saturday: Again had breakfast, this time near King's cross, at a reasonable hour. And since we were so close we decided to pay a little visit to platform 9 & 3/4, but alas since we are mere muggles we could not get through. The British Museum was next on the list, it was free which is a plus. Had a lot of cool exhibits, including the actual Rosetta Stone, you could even hold some of the reallllly old things. Held a mini vase from 2000 BC, no big deal. Lunch was another trip to Chipotle, when you are away from America for so long, you do what you can to keep craziness at bay. A stop at Starbuck's was mixed in here somewhere (Yes Melissa, I got you a mug). The National Gallery was after...lots of cool paintings and again I don't really like art per se, but the museum was free and it had some Van Gogh and Caravaggio. Onward to Westminster Abbey (and Big Ben/Parliament again), sure it's just another Cathedral and I've seen a TON here, it is still pretty ace. And it's British so what is not to love?  Hyde Park was the next stop, it's a little smaller than Central Park in NYC I'd say, but just as busy....a large pond and Princess Diana Memorial highlight the hopping park. Then at about 7pm we got tickets for the London Eye, the world's largest ferris wheel. It goes real slow, so you get incredible views of London. It was the first ferris wheel I'd ever been on, kind of expensive, but glad I did it. Dinner at another pup wrapped up the evening. Another pint of cider each and fish & chips capped off a great day. We had to get up at 3am the next day (sunday, today) so we called it a semi-early evening at around midnight.

Sunday: That's right, 3am wake up call...why do you always seem to get your best sleep when you have to wake up early, the bed was actually comfortable the 3rd night. Anywho we had a 4:10 train to Stansted to catch. The bus came after a few minutes...I'll say a lot of people were still up at that hour, I guess saturday night is the big party night, a few pubs are open past midnight but not a lot. Checking in at the airport went fairly quickly, but we were already cutting it close to our departure time of 6:10a. Security was moving at a good pace, they had a lot of lanes open and I commend them for that. However, they had to double search Katie Mac's bag, apparently she had too many liquids, oh well, they are just extra cautious like in America. Now as for the gate, we were at gate 50, and Stansted is set up basically like a giant line. So 50 was pretttty much at the end. We had to hustle to get there, but we had enough time because boarding was delayed a few minutes. Whew, on the plane, it's all over right? Nope.
        Now I was asleep most of the flight, but woke up shortly before landing, and was still kind of drowsy when after we started to get towards the runway, we sped back up. What??? "The pilot has just done a missed approach due to weather on the ground" Well sh*t, never had that happen to me before. Another 10 minutes and we had another go at the landing....saaaaame result. So this time the pilot gets on the horn and says that we are now being diverted to Fumincino (the big, legit airport of Rome). It actually worked out better in our favor because it's easier to get back to campus from there, so the joke is on THEM. Still it was kind of scary, going to land and then speeding back up. I was a bit shocked though, I've been on planes that have landed in worse fog. So what does that say about RyanAir pilots, are they just extra cautious? Oh well. I'll be flying Alitalia out of here in 4 weeks, no worries there.

So now here I am..another weekend gone by. Four weeks left to go. It seems like so long ago I got here, but also seems like just yesterday. Wow, is all I can say.  Thanks for reading this long post, enjoy it...because I am putting off homework for this. It was an incredible weekend. Not looking forward to this week so much, but the week is just a short 4 days away...I love no class fridays.

There are still so many things I need to figure out for the summer, I almost don't want this semester to end, but I know it has to at some point. Oh well Future Kenny can worry about that.

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