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As the title suggests, I will be telling stories and expressing my varying opinions. And yes, they may be offensive. Not offensive in the way that you're thinking (by that I mean I'm not going to be flat out profane) more offensive in the sense that I'm going to say things that you might not like. I have a lot of opinions, and they're rather strong. You may disagree, but hopefully you'll find yourself slightly entertained, maybe just a little amused, possibly just a bit aroused (that's a joke, by the way). If you're even the smallest amount intrigued, then I encourage you to continue reading. I have much, much more to say.

7/2/13

London #7: So Very Much...

This is going to be a long post, ladies and gentlemen. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to split it apart into multiple posts, I just may. We have done a LOT since I was last on here. I'm just gonna take it day-by-day. I'll try to make it a bit shorter by going into slightly less detail, but I don't want to leave anything important out. Buckle in!

Sunday:

We went to the famous Natural History Museum in London. It was a really fascinating experience, especially because there were freakin' dinosaurs there!

I've had a love for dinosaurs pretty much my whole life, so this was kind of a big deal. We saw a lot of bones, really big bones. We also saw some pretty cool animals and such, but the dinosaurs obviously win.



Monday: 

Most of the group was still gone in Paris so we just headed over to the Science Museum. It was rather interesting, but it was mostly interactive so there weren't many pictures to take. By that I mean, I don't have any pictures from there. It wasn't my favorite museum that we've been to, but it was a good time. 

Tuesday: 

We needed a bit of relaxation on Tuesday. We were all museum'd out and tired, so we just hung out. We're making good time as of right now, but there is much, much more to come. 

Wednesday:

Alright, this is where the week starts to get hectic. Wednesday, we went to the Tate Modern Gallery, but I, being a fool, forgot my camera. There were some really awesome works of art there, many of them that I would consider having prints of for myself. I was happy to have been able to show off everything that I learned in my art class last semester. I was identifying Picasso, Beuys, Matisse, and others. It was pretty cool to be a pretentious jerk for a day. Here is one painting I really liked, for some reason. 

From Line by Lee Ufan
After the Tate, we returned to the Globe to see The Tempest. While in line, I heard several people getting excited because there was going to be someone famous in the play. It turned out that Colin Morgan, who plays Merlin on the TV show Merlin, was playing the part of Ariel. I haven't ever watched Merlin, so I didn't really care much. I was much more excited by the fact that Roger Allam was playing the lead role of Prospero! That name might not mean anything to you, so let me show you a picture or two.

Roger Allam and Colin Morgan
If you still don't recognize him, that's fine. He's been in some things that you may have seen, however. He played Prothero in V for Vendetta, one of my favorite movies...

...and he played the small part of Illyrio Mopatis in Game of Thrones, one of my favorite TV shows. 

So yeah, it was kind of a big deal. On top of that, it was a great production. Caliban (the slave, I'm sorry if you're unfamiliar with the show but I don't really want to give a synopsis since I'm trying to save space...) was very involved with the audience. He actually slapped me repeatedly in the forehead, which was really funny and very unexpected. 

How would you like to get slapped by this guy?
Alright, moving on!

Thursday:

We headed out after class to make our way to Stratford-upon-Avon. On the way, we stopped off at Warwick (pronounced Warrick) Castle. It was a really awesome castle, one of the most complete castles remaining. Sadly, it's been a bit commercialized, but it was still an awesome trip. We walked up the towers and ramparts, went down into the dungeons, and walked through the great hall. 




After Warwick, we made our way to Stratford. We went to our bed and breakfast, a nice little place called the Hollies. So far, this was the most comfortable I've been in Europe. The beds were awesome, there was a bathtub, the shower was roomy (yeah, that's a luxury here, it turns out). We walked a bit (note: don't forget your umbrella when you go to Stratford!) and had dinner at the Garrick Inn. I had my first bangers and mash. It was delicious. 


After we ate, we walked down the road to the Swan Theater at the Royal Shakespeare Company to see Titus Andronicus. For those of you who aren't familiar with Titus, it is a bloody, wild tragedy in which people are raped, dismembered, and fed to their mothers. It was an awesome show. (For kids!)

After the play we walked over to the famous Dirty Duck. Unfortunately, it was really crowded and their hot drink machine was broken, so we headed up the road to a little place called the Cafe Rouge. It was late, so we were the only ones there. We had some good chats, talking about ghost stories and past jobs. 


The next day, we woke up bright and early for breakfast at the B&B. I ate my fill of waffles, bacon (British bacon, which isn't half as good as American bacon), sausage, eggs, toast, and hot chocolate. The whole group then walked a good distance to the cottage of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife. Sadly, we didn't know that it would cost money, so we didn't stay for the tour. Instead, we walked back towards the river and hopped on a boat tour down the Avon. We learned that "Avon" actually means "river." So, it's the River River. With the translation of "Stratford," the city's name is "Street-crossing upon river." That doesn't sound quite as nice, for some reason...


After the boat cruise, we went to lunch at a pub called the Rose & Crown. I ate a large amount of fried food, which was delicious. After the pub, we went to Trinity Church and saw William Shakespeare's grave! That was really incredible. His grave was surprisingly plain, but there was still something about it that was very significant. 


We went to dinner at the Dirty Duck. I wasn't very hungry, so I just got some delicious Jamaican ginger cheesecake. After dinner, we went over to the RSC Main Stage to see As You Like It. This was a very interesting interpretation of the play, and my least favorite of the plays that we've seen on the trip. I still enjoyed it, but compared to the other shows we've seen, it was weak. 

After the play, we claimed our bags and went to get on the bus, which was sitting next to the B&B. When we boarded, the driver was asleep in the front seat, which was not exactly comforting. In his defense, it was almost midnight...but still. We didn't get home until 2:00 AM. It was a long ride. 

Saturday: 

Here begins the long weekend of transit! In the morning, we walked to the tube station, where we took the tube to Victoria. From Victoria we went to Kings Cross/St. Pancras station. From St. Pancras, we got on an over-land train for 45 minutes to the Luton airport. We took our 50 minute plane to the airport, where we took a bus to the city center!



Our first night in Ireland, we went to the Arlington Hotel Bar. I had an absolutely awesome beef rib sandwich and we watched a really long set by an Irish guy playing guitar and singing. After a few hours there, we went for a walk around the city and went back to the hostel to play cards. 

Sunday:

I decided to get some sleep Sunday morning while some of the group went to St. Patrick's cathedral. When they got back, we went to the Dublin Writer's Museum. They had some really cool old books, including a first edition copy of Dracula. 


After the museum, we went for another walk. The plan was to follow the River Liffey to the ocean, but there wasn't a direct route, as far as we could see, without actually jumping in the river. While walking, we got caught in a sudden rainstorm that lasted less than three minutes. Standing in the Irish rain was a really awesome experience, being wet for the rest of the day was worth it. 

When we finished our five-mile walk, we went to DiFontaine's, a really popular pizza joint. After pizza, we did a little bit of pub crawling, visiting the famous Temple Bar and Oliver St. John Gogarty's, where we heard some more music. Then we went and got some milkshakes and back to the hostel for some more cards. 

We're getting close now, I promise. 
(That's what she said...)

Monday: 

This was my birthday, and it was by far the best birthday I've ever had. When I woke up, Tayler brought me a croissant and a scone from Max Coffee House. We all got ready and hit the road, stopping again at Max, where I bought a white hot chocolate, which was heavenly. We went on to catch a bus to Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced jail), a famous prison where many prisoners were held. The jail was really awesome, though it was rather heavy. Knowing that so many people lived and died there was pretty spooky. There was a lot to learn and tons to see, including the yard where the executions took place. 



Looks like Shawshank, but it isn't...


We stopped at a nearby pub to eat after the jail, and then hopped on another bus back to the city. From there, we jumped on another bus which took us about 40 minutes to Marlay Park, a really beautiful slice of Irish countryside. Although I had really loved Ireland up until this point, this was what I really expected from it, lots and lots of green. We found some really awesome waterfalls and rivers and even stumbled upon a fairy tree. It was a large tree with small doors, windows, walkways, and castle turrets where fairies were supposed to live. People would put trinkets such as lockets or bells on the tree and pin wishes to it as well. We wrote up a quick wish for ourselves and set back down the path. 


Possibly the best picture I've ever taken.







We spent quite a while there. It was magnificent. After that, we went back to town, got some cheap dinner, and jumped on another bus to the airport. (For those of you that aren't counting, that brings us to 47 buses so far... okay, not really...) After the plane ride, we took a bus to the train station, then took a train to St. Pancras, then took the night bus to Albert Hall, then walked the rest of the way to the flat. We arrived at 2:00 in the morning, finally "home."

Tuesday:

This morning, we all awoke begrudgingly at 8:00-ish for class and such. Everyone was exhausted, but we had an awesome week. It's only 2:00, now, so nothing has really happened yet. I'm sure there will be more to come, though, as we are going to Scotland this weekend for several days. That ought to be pretty exciting. 

Until next time,

Steve

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