so much for graduating college...

Iceland is home to Satan's volcano. I am not a fan of anything Icelandic at present, that includes you Bjork.
So I was all scheduled to fly out Saturday the 17th from London. I did everything one last time. I went to the National Gallery and said good bye to van Gogh, went to Borough for one last ostrich burger and took one last trip to Primark to stock up on summer wardrobe essentials. 
Then Thursday night the forsaken news spread rampant through the BYU London Center. 
The volcano started to erupt.
That night the airports closed. 
Friday morning I was still confident that I could get out that weekend.
Ten minutes later my flight was cancelled. 
See, news like this would have been welcomed with open arms if it were any other week. 
This week, however, is my college graduation. I have been looking forward to this for basically the last year. Call me cheesy but I was excited to have my name called and walk across that stage, in front of my peers and family to get my degree....case. I'm proud of myself and I really wanted to feel that surge of pride and self accomplishment this week. Two of my closest friends, Alyssa and Camille, are graduating with me, we are all in the same college (Fine Arts and Communications). I was really stoked to be there with them. 
When my flight on Saturday got cancelled I almost immediately skyped my mom and listened as she called Delta to get it rescheduled. At this point the airports in all of Northern Europe basically were closed indefinitely. I waited with anxiety rushing through my veins. Mom got me, and another girl here Christina, a flight back to SLC on Tuesday. I felt good about Tuesday, it was days away and this whole ash cloud will blow right on through to Russia by then. 
Tuesday was yesterday. I'm still in England. 
Monday rolled around and airports were still closed. At this point there was a glimmer of hope. There were some serious rumors that the airports would open up Tuesday morning. I was really happy to hear this news. So Monday was my second last day. I did everything, again, one last time. I even checked into my flight that day. I was set. And then I was crushed.
That afternoon I got back from the Grace Kelly exhibit at the V&A and my Tuesday flight was cancelled. Once again I immediately skyped mom. She had already rebooked a flight for me. She got the very next possible flight. I was thinking as long as I get in before 8am Friday for my convocation ( I don't need to be at commencement, thats the boring one anyway) I would be just peachy.
Sunday. Sunday was the first flight out.
I cried. I was so bummed.  I honestly thought even though everything was going wrong that I would somehow make it back just in the knick of time. I cried to mom through skype, which I must say was slightly embarrassing. There was nothing else that could be done. Delta wasn't even booking flights before Sunday.
Just as I was about to finish this post, Wednesday night, I decided to check the Delta website one last time. I had heard that there had been some new flights were being added due to the reopening of the airport.
And there it was.
Thursday morning, there was a flight at ten.
I booked it.
Then I ran upstairs to my room screaming,
I'm going to graduate college!

And I did. 


it would only happen to me.

So today was the start of finals here in London, yes finals, what a ridiculous idea right? Anyway, I had two this morning, and after the first my gal pal Caitlin and I decided to go grab some food for lunch. We each got a slice of pizza and on the way back we stopped at the starbucks around the corner from our flat for some hot chocolate. 
We looked pretty haggard, it's been a rough morning. I walked up to place my order and who was waiting there to get his coffee but Hugh Dancy.

I glanced up and at him and then did a very conspicuous double take and he looked back at me. I turned to Caitlin to tell who we were standing next to. As I turned back he was walking past with coffee cup in hand, I looked up at him, made eye contact and smiled. He smiled back as he walked out. As I shut my mouth after smiling I could feel a giant chunk of oregano in my teeth. 
I smiled at Hugh Dancy with Oregano in my teeth. 

we took a picture afterwards so we could document how we looked when we saw him, yes that is the face Caitlin made.

Since it was a neighborhood Starbucks, like not on a big street, I'm pretty sure he must live around me. Cool.

a weekend getaway to scotland, cause I can.

Two weeks ago the group went on a trip to Northern England. You can see photos with captions here.
We ended the five day trip in Liverpool. We, me, Calvin, Alyssa and Cameron, got special permission to leave from Liverpool and head up to Scotland for Easter weekend. So we hopped on a train that after noon and showed up in Edinburgh around seven that night. 
[Calvin, Alyssa, me and Cameron]
 That night we wandered around downtown Edinburgh. We walked down the Royal Mile, which is a stretch of road, yes it's a mile good job, that starts at the entrance of the Edinburgh Castle and ends at the Holywod House and along it is all these fancy important buildings. We ate dinner at a pub, where Calvin got hagis for everyone to taste. I'd already tried it before (Marta, the scottish woman in my ward made some for a munch and mingle) everyone seemed to like it mucho. I got cullen skink. Its a creamy soup with some sort of fish in it. It was actually super tasty. I had no idea what it was when I ordered it, I just felt like being super scottish. That night we made it back to our hostel around ten. The place was really nice and the guy who ran it was really nice. I would definitely recommend it. 

[really cool bridge]
The next day we made our way up to castle hill where we were to meet our bus for our day tour to the highlands. We booked our tours separately not knowing there was more than one bus. Everyone was on the same bus but me. Luckily Calvin and all his heroics convinced a lady to switch buses so that I could be on the same bus as the other three. I almost spent twelve hours by myself in Scotland. But  I didn't and we set out on our journey. We drove a ways out into the highlands with Alistar, or Ali as our tour guide. He was hilarious and would use the word guys at least twice in every sentence. Hey Guys you know out here in the highlands you gotta work hard guys. We had a sneaking suspicion he was mormon. 

[me and nessie]
Our first big stop was Loch Ness. We rode a boat out onto the Loch and to a castle just on the other side. It was gorgeous. It was a cool crisp day. The water was still but pitch black. I saw some water ripple like it would have been Nessie.... 
[Loch Ness]
The boat director even played some Scottish mood music for us so we could have an enjoyable nessie watching journey. 
On the other side was Urquhart Castle. 

[the gang on top of the castle, yes I wore that hat all day like a tourist]

The Castle ruins were really cool to climb up and look out over the loch. The loch is SO much bigger than I thought it would be. I was thinking it was more like a really big pond. No wonder no can find Nessie in there.

 [ me basking in the glory of the loch, sorry its sideways] 

The rest of the trip was driving through the highlands, stopping at different little points to take pictures of the scenery and to buy whiskey. It was a really fun day, but I was pretty sick of riding a bus buy the end of the day. That night we went to this really great Italian place for dinner. I love some authentic carbonara.

[Edinburgh Castle]
The next morning, Easter Sunday, we hiked up to the castle and went all over inside. It was a really pretty castle. The complex is so much bigger than it appears to be. Inside we went through the war displays, the state apartments, the cathedral, the dungeons and the crown jewel displays. Which compared to the tower of London is nothing spectacular, I mean they only have one crown in there. But they do have the stone, man I can't think of the name of it, any way its the stone that every monarch in British History has sat on to be crowned. Even Elizabeth, well there was a little spot for it under the coronation chair. That was pretty sweet. But the sweetest thing about this place was all the Bruce stuff. Yeah that's right, I'm related to Robert the Bruce (go watch Braveheart) and he was the king of Scotland once. 

[me being crowned, take that Rob]
They had this little statue thing of Robert being crowned but I totally abdicated the throne, atleast it stayed in the family. 
After the castle we walked down the Scotland's National Gallery. They have some really good stuff in there, being a fan of 19th century art that was my favorite. There is a portrait by John Singer Sargent that I really like. Her gaze is captivating. 

[ the colors are so much more vibrant in person]
Then we hopped back on the train and rode it for five hours all the way back to London.
I really love Scotland and I'm proud to be from there. 


And everything in between...

So here are just some snapshots of some things I've done inbetween all the big trips I've gone on:

[ Me, Brit, Mary on the Millennial Bridge ]
So one of my classes is a Culture in Community class and one of our assignments is to do these mapped out walks around London so we can soak up the city sights. This walk was the South of the Thames walk. The Thames kind of separates the city of London. Some of the major things south of the Thames is the Globe, the Tate Modern Museum, and Borough Market (best market ever). This bridge goes from the Tate Modern over to St. Pauls. If you are a Harry Potter fan, this bridge is the bridge that gets blown up in the high speed broom chase in number six. 

[ Dorm 4 ladies]
So Valentines was on a Sunday this year so our house had a party to celebrate on the following Monday. As a part of the social committee I planned a little game for everyone to play. In order to get into the party you had to be wearing valentines colors. The game was everyone was assigned one half of a famous couple, it was taped to their back so they didn't know who it was. Everyone had to mingle and ask questions to figure out who they were and then to find their match. (ex. Shakespeare and Anne Hathoway) People got mad at me because apparently the couples I chose aren't well-known enough. I actually got yelled at by someone. It is because the first place prize was a gift card to the Hummingbird Bakery. After the game we decorated sugar cookies and watched a mushy mushy movie. 

[ Kitchen Crew ]
So we are divided into groups of about six people and each group takes a week to help with kitchen duties. My kitchen crew is called the Marblearchers. We set up breakfast and help cook dinner and wash the dishes. That big shiny thing is called Hobart. He cleans the dishes for us and then we dry them and put them away. Most nights we jam and dance around to the radio while we clean up so it's actually really fun.

[ the crew at the YSA dance]
So we were forewarned that the Young Single Adult stake dances are the place to be. Nearly the entire group, that's about thirty five of us, got all dressed the impress (that's the theme) are marched into the cultural hall of the Hyde Park building. We made up more than half the crowd. The room was all decked out for valentines. We all boogied all night long. 

[ me getting down ]
I got this dress for the dance in Camdentown.  It is the punk rock part of town. They have a great market on the weekends. So much good food, especially the salt and pepper chicken from the chinese man. I got it in a little boutique. I was trying it on and picking out the color I wanted to get when the little asian lady that ran the place asked where I was from and I said the States and she dropped the price down ten pounds just cause I'm American. I made the sleeves out of tights.

[ St. Ausgustines ]
On one of our day trips we went out to St. Augustines which is an old abbey ruin. We also went out that way to Dover. The cliffs really are white. During WWII this huge tunnel system was built underneath Dover castle. It was used as a military headquarters. We took a tour of them. They are called the Secret War Tunnels. Ironic name huh. They have it all set up like it was still the 40s. Not going to lie it was a little bit creepy but still pretty cool to see. 

[ me caitlin and two stiff dudes ]
This was on our day trip to the gorgeous Windsor Castle. We had a grand ole time walking around the grounds and looking in all the state apartments. They are all so fancy. Its a shame the queen is only there on the weekends.My favorite part was the giant dollhouse that is a perfect replica of the palace, with little mini minute details. I want one. That afternoon we got a quick bit to eat at the gourmet restaurant McDonalds. It's true, its so fancy in Europe. There are fresh tulips on every table. And that is where we found these handsome  fellows. 

[ Stratford-upon-Avon ]
On yet another daytrip we made our way out to Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace and deathplace of good old Billy Shakespeare. We visited Anne Hathoway's house and Shakey's birthplace. The church pictured above is where he is buried. I give it one thumbs up. That night we went and saw the Royal Shakespeare Company perform King Lear at the Courtyard Theatre. I forgot to include that in my list of shows that I saw. It was really really good. We sat in this stool like seats way up high, but it was great cause then we could see down onto the stage and see how all the actors were choreographed. The story is about King Lear and how his poor actions eventually lead to his demise. The director did a really good job of portraying the destruction of the character of King Lear by having the set literally fall apart as things get worse and worse (walls fell apart and lights flickered and crashed). It was really cool, if you want to know more just ask, I wrote a paper on it. 

[ me at London Fashion Week]
There is this private collection of art at the Sommerset House ( i think someone fancy lived there once) and Brit and I wanted to go see it) So one afternoon we walked out to it and it just so happened to be hosting London Fashion Week. We knew it was in town then but not where. We were walking up to the sommerset house and upon entering we were given a free tote bag full of goodies. There is a giant courtyard just as you walk in the gates and right in there a structure was built to house the runway. It was the middle of the day so there were no shows going on plus we didn't have passes to get into them anyway. We walked around and saw all the racks of clothes lined up and trendy fashion interns whizzing past us. It made me feel all fancy.
After desperately trying to look like we belonged, we went inside to see the collection. It was really quaint place with a big variety of work. The highlight of course was seeing the Folie Bergeres by Manet. I love that painting. I learned that day, through Brit, that it is more well known as the Woman at the Bar, but I had never heard that. But it was gorgeous. 

[ heath walking]
Brit and I like to go on adventures. While most the girls go out shopping, Brit and I go adventuring, which usually results in a little shopping anyway. On one particular day we headed out to Hampstead (borough of London) and explored that part of town. It is a little commuter part of town just outside the central city. It was so cute and posh and I would move there in a heartbeat when I have a family. Right in the middle of town there's the heath. In the middle of this huge heath is the Kenwood house which was our main destination for the day. This fancy manor house out in the middle of a meadow came to fame for being used in a lot of films, for example its the house in Notting Hill when Anna is filming the Henry James movie. Everything on this trip seems to always relate back to Notting Hill, I wouldn't suggest watching that with me any time soon unless you want to hear Hey I've been there, or I totally know where that is, the whole time. Anyway we started hiking through the heath. We turned out to be very unprepared footwear wise; it was much muddier than expected. So we decided to just take our shoes off and have a therapeutic walk through the mud. Then we got lost and cold and didn't find the Kenwood house.  A few weeks later we went there as a group and I wore boots that day. 

[ The great hall ]
We got the mormon hook up. As a group we ventured out to Oxford and Roger just happens to know the the PR director for King's College is mormon. Well they all arranged this before hand, but the director gave us a private tour of the univerisity, including some behind the scenes things, including going into the library where I took a book (don't worry the sign on the shelf said i could). Then after that we went into the Great Hall where we were giving a "tea" service. PR man actually had it arranged so that we had tea pots of hot chocolate. Now you harry potter fans, this is the Great Hall. All those scenes are filmed here at Oxford, and just outside those doors is the main staircase, where in the first film they all waited to be sorted. Pretty sweet. After "tea" we had a BYU alum who's getting her masters at Oxford do a little Q & A for us. She made the whole British university system sound rather unappealing to me, it was really complicated. So I just daydreamed about Harry Potter. 
[ aMAZEing]
On this particular day we went out to Blenheim palace. That is where the duke of Malborough. Winston Churchill was the grandson of the duke. The palace is huge and immensely decorated. There is a section otf the house dedicated to the Churchills, particularly Winston. We saw his bedroom which had a lock of his strawberry blonde hair framed on the wall. The best part of the palace was the grounds. They have so much land. After a walk through this huge meadow we found the hedge maze. We ended up getting there with about a half hour till we needed to get back onto the bus, so we figured that we could do a quick run through of the maze. We were running and then we made it to this puddle. Don't worry guys, I didn't get even a little bit wet. 

[ Cameron, Brit, Calvin, Me, and Caitlin ]
One of my goals while here in England was to go see a football match. That goal was not realized, but I came close. So the biggest match while I've been here was Manchester United vs. AC Milan. The are a few things of significance about this game. First the Man U team has about half the England National team, including the great Wayne Rooney. Next, Beckham is on loan to AC Milan for the season, and Beckham started out playing for Man U back in the day so it was his return to the stadium. And lastly, not only is Beckham on loan to AC Milan, but Ronaldino is also. Anyway it was the game to see And since it was turns out the game was completely sold out. Bummed, I searched the internet for some way to see it. I found on the AC Milan website that if I sign up for their fanclub than I would get VIP tickets to their London party for the game. So i thought, close enough, and signed us all up to get tickets. The party was at this huge two story sports bar in the West End. We got to the building just as the game was starting and it was packed. We didn't think we would get in, but when we flashed our VIP tickets at the door they rushed us in and up the stairs to the real party. It was really fun. It was decorated and packed full of fans. There were games and prizes and free stuff. I got a burger from the bar and watched the game. It was a blast, minus the fact that the commentary was in Italian.

[ tea]
On this saturday Brit and I went on another adventure full of daintiness. We attempted to go to an antique market, but it was closed, then we went to finish going through the Wallace Collection. The Collection is in one of King Henry's ( I think VIII) houses in London. It has a a lot of Dutch artwork, including Fragonard's The Swing, which is a very dainty painting. Then we went back and walked through Kensington Gardens and on to palace grounds. Kensington Palace was the home of Princess Diana. On the grounds there is the Orangerie, which is the green house like tea room. We went in for brunch time tea. We ate croissants and tea and scones and a slice of Orangerie Cake. All very delicious and dainty. 

[ waiting for camille ]
Our last big day trip was out to the town of Cambridge. Of course we started the day with Christ's Church College tour. I was particularly excited for this day because my BFF Camille is moving out to Cambridge for the summer. We went through the cathedral in the college and then we were released to explore the town. While still on college grounds I had to find Bodley Court, where Camille is going to be living. Above is me posing in front of Bodley Court and in two months Camille will take a similar picture and we'll photoshop them together and we'll be at Cambridge together. 


I went to Paris and left my camera in London

The past four days I went to Paris with the group here. We left at the crack of dawn, ok not really, and made our way to St. Pancras Station and hopped on the EuroStar to Paris, that's the train that goes through the chunnel. The train ride was about two hours. 
Once we got to Paris we jumped on a coach and headed out to Chartres. Chartres has one of the world's most famous cathedrals. It has the longest nave of all medieval churches. And it was huge. A nice british man was there to talk to us about the cathedral, he had been doing so for the last 52 years. He spoke into a little microphone and we wore headsets and listened. The earphones hurt my little ears and the church was freezing. But it was pretty to look at and the stain glass windows are huge and intricate. There's a relic in the back, it is supposedly a piece robe that Mary wore when she gave birth to Jesus. Its tiny and in a huge glass box behind a velvet rope so I couldn't really see it.
Dinner and Eiffel Tower
Once we got back to Paris we checked into our Hotel. I was hotel buddies with Allyson, and we only had one bed- I think that was a mistake. But we had a good time. Nearly immediately after checking in we headed out for dinner. A whole bunch of girls ended up at an Italian place with delicious food. The Italian men loved us pretty american girls. After food we eventually found our way to the Eiffel tower ( London Underground far superior to French Metro). It was dark and the tower was all lite up. We wandered underneath and out to the park in front of it to take pictures.
[ can can ]
Once we were leaving these two Spanish/Portuguese boys came up to us saying they could tell we were American and tried to chat us up hardcore. This is the first instance of being hit on in France.
[ french guy ]
 After that encounter we went across the street along the Seine and ate a crepe while riding on a carousel. It was pretty much amazing. Then we went home and slept in big beds.
[ carousal ]

The next morning the whole group, after waiting around a lot on train platforms, made it out to Versailles. I've been to Versailles before but the gardens were closed (it was December) so this experience was especially nice. ( It was sixty and sunny in France the whole time we were there) I went through the house with the same girls I hung out with the night previous.
[ versailles steps ]

Caitlin and I have the new habit of talking in accents and at Versailles we named our characters. First there is Iris and Joan, they're from Minnetonka, Minnesota. Then there is Lyla and Barbera Sue, one from Dallis the other from San Antonio but they get together for lunch all the time. We spent most the time being from Texas. It was really fun to play loud obnoxious Americans vacationing in France. I hope no real Texans heard us. 
After going through the fancy palace we headed out to the gardens and got paninis and sat and marveled at the landscape, soaked in the sun and fed our ever unsatisfied stomachs.
[ versailles gates ]

Moufftard and Champs Ellyses 
After that pleasantness we headed back into Paris and went to Moufftard which is like the Portobello Road of Paris. We wandered through some market stalls and little shops. We stopped at Nicholson's Chocolate and I got a bag of little chocolates, which I have-with great self control- have not eaten all of it yet. At the end of the street was our main event. There is a little Italian ice cream shop with the tastiest ice cream ever, but that's not it, they scoop it to look like a flower on your cone. Pretty and delicious.
[ flower ice cream ]

Then we went from that quaint little market street to Champs Elyses- the high end fashion shopping street. There we perused shops full of things I will never be able to afford or even really want to for that matter. Then at the end of the street was the Arc de Triompf.
[ arc]
We hiked up the three hundred some stairs to the top and looked all across Paris's skyline. We sat up there for quite a while to make the hike all the more worthwhile.
[ top of the arc ]

 After the arc we went and got dinner at this little French place and I got a hotdog. It was the fanciest hot dog ever. It was on a baggette and it had fancy cheese melted on top of it and it was delicious. Dinner ended and after some more shop perusing we headed back to the hotel kinda making it a short night. But once back I took a bubble bath while listening to French music. Then Allyson got home and we went to the bar in the hotel for some cocktails. Alcohol free mom. The French barman gave us lots of free snacks too. 
Notre Dame and Saint Chapelle 
The next morning the group gathered and ventured over to the island, yes there is an island in the middle of the Seine I've been to Paris and didn't know this, where Notre Dame rests (please do not call it Norter Dame like the people from Indiana do).
[ calvin and i like to ruin caitlin's pictures ]

The inside of the church is rather similar to all the other gothic churches around but what is cool is getting to stand on the tops of the towers. It was quite the climb up there though, 300 something steps. We got to walk all the way around, we were fenced in on all sides including above us as to not jump off and kill our selves. The gargoyles are just like in the Hunchback movie, except these ones didn't come to life, although they looked like they could.
[ top of notre dame ]
 Once we got around to the middle of the tower we got to go up to where one of the bells is housed and touch it. Its a pretty big bell. I'm glad it didn't ring while I was in there. The view from up top was gorgeous because the church sits right on the river. 
Once we finished we walked over to Saint Chapelle, another really famous church. On the way to the church I stopped and bought a beret, my French souvenir. Its grey, I didn't actually wear it in Paris so I wouldn't look too touristy. Now of course Saint Chapelle was under construction when we got there. Only a little portion of the nave was open to the public. At the church you enter the lobby and then off in the corner you go up a little spiral staircase and it opens up into the nave. The walls consist nearly entirely of stained glass. Its an architectual feat. What holds up the walls? Flying buttresses that's what does. That art history degree isn't going to waste.
[ windows in saint chapelle]
It was a sunny day so the light through the glass lite the entire space with all sorts of colors. Another neat thing is that the walls and ceilings are painted, just like they would have been back in the day. Most churches these days just keep the bare stone where the paint has worn off so seeing this was pretty awesome. The ceiling was bright blue with little stars. I'm just so accustomed to seeing white limestone or marble. 
Monmarted and Sacre Couer
That afternoon we hiked, literally up a bajillion stairs, to the top of the hill in Monmarted (a part of Paris) where the church called Sacre Couer sits. It is the coolest looking church. It looks like the mix of some middle eastern temple and a French gothic church. And being up on top of a hill makes it that much more awe inspiring.
[ sacre couer]
The inside was just as gorgeous. There is a huge apse painting of Christ. Easily a restoration from the twentieth century but still a great piece. It was so spacious inside. It rivals with St. Paul's. But St. Paul's has a much better dome. After leaving the church we wandered down the other side of the hill and through a market shop. I ate a crepe. I had I think two crepes a day. From that point we made a quick pit stop at the Pompidou.
[ me pushing cameron out of my picture ]

It's a modern art museum but we didn't go inside, mostly because the building itself is the coolest part. The building is inside out. All the pipes, air ducts and mechanics are on the outside. Plus I learned about it in my architecture class so it was a must.
[ the pompidou ]

When we were there this asian dude came up to Calvin and said you have a funny face can I draw it? It was a charicature man. So he drew Calvin like king kong climbing the Eiffel Tower. The dude was hilarious plus he gave Calvin a mullet. Calvin did not buy the picture. 
the Louvre
[ louvre with caitlin ]
So going through the Louvre was pretty fun. All the people that were with me, Brit, Cameron, Calvin and Caitlin immediately made me their tour guide and said show us what's good. Luckily I could still actually remember some things from the last time I was there. I grabbed a map and only got us lost once. It is THE most complicated museum floorplan I've ever been in. Not going to lie I loved the attention from the crew. It was really fun to lead them to each piece and teach them a thing or two about it.
[ me waving the crew over to teach them about caryatids ]

 At each stop Cameron and Calvin would ask, Why is this famous? And being an art history major I could either tell them why or make it up and like I know why. It was great. We saw Michelangelo's Dying Slaves, Venis de Milo, Winged Victory, the Code of Hammorabi, Estrucan Couple Sarcophagus, Reclining Hermaphrodite (hilarious), of course Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Madonna on the Rocks,
[ my mona lisa smile]
Delacroix's Liberty Leading her People and the Death of Sardanapolis, and countless Raphael's. So I basically gave them a highlights tour of the Louvre and of pieces I could really talk about. I loved it. It was a testament that I want to work for a museum.
Dinner and a Boat Cruise
As we were rounding off the Renaissance Hall in the Louvre we ran into a few of the other girls and we all went to dinner together. I ordered something in French that I didn't know what it was. Luckily it turned out to be quite tasty. It was some sort of cooked meat, most likely pork but maybe veal? Marinated in something lemony. Then there were noodles in a creamy sauce. It was delightful. It's a good thing I know what snails is in French so I knew not to order that. After dinner we split off, boys and girls. The girls headed back to the Eiffel Tower and hopped on a boat for a cruise down the Seine. It was pleasant and pretty and all lite up. Unfortunately there were some obnoxious kids from Canada behind us. Stupid tourists. We got off the cruise and got another crepe and then went home and had a good sleep. 
Musee d'Orsay
Best museum ever. We got there right as it opened so the first hour there wasn't really anyone there. The museum was put inside an old train station so the building has huge arc shaped windows and a really high barrel vault ceiling. This lets in a ton of light and with a mostly white interior the place glows. There is still the giant clock on the wall that all train stations have. The museum houses 19th and 20th century art which is my favorite. I have a map from the place covered in notes of artwork I loved and new artwork I found. There were some new names and same really famous. There is an entire room of Degas's ballerinas, one of Monet's lilies,  and one of Renoir's portraits. Some really key works were there too. Luncheon of the Grass by Manet, we spent two weeks on this one piece in my thesis class. Manet's Olympia is there too, which was much more painterly looking that I had assumed. There was a self portrait of Van Gogh, the uninjured one. There was an entire exhibit of Hector Guimard's furniture, that's right Mr. Paul Anderson. But by this point there were tons of people inside and I got really frustrated and I can't look at art all angry like. 
Orangerie, Cafe and Musee Rodin
After getting completely turned around Brit and I made our way to the Orangerie. A tiny little museum on the same plot of land as the Louvre. We really only went there to see one thing. There's a white oval room that has its entire wall plastered with Monet's lilies. It was pretty and then we left. 
We walked across the street and went into the first cafe we found cause we were starving. It was an open front cafe, meaning no front wall so we could people watch. I had an omelette du fromage avec jambon. No kidding that's what I got and it was tres bon. Upon exiting the cafe I ran into someone I knew. In Paris. Weird I know. It was Ann Frances. She's an art history major. She and her husband just made their own spring break and came to Paris. We chatted a bit. I felt really cool. 
Next was the Musee Rodin. And if you know anything in French than you know that means the Rodin Museum. It was what I expected. It was better. It was a garden with his statues placed all around it. It was very scenic and pretty. As we were pondering with the thinker, Brit struck up a conversation with professors from BYU I. Mormons are like magnets, they are always drawn together. Its funny how easy it is to pick out Americans, especially Idahoans. 
There Brit and I did become confounded. Inside the Hotel (which means big house) Rodin's the Kiss was in there, but the Tate Modern here in London has Rodin's the Kiss. We saw both of them with our own eyes and now someone has got some e'splaining to do. 
The Paris Opera House and the Pantheon
Our final afternoon in Paris consisted of architecture. The Pantheon was a really cool building that was really freezing inside. Nothing too spectacular to report back. But the Paris Opera House was amazing. Now if you have heard of a little story called the Phantom of the Opera then you know this place. This is the Phantom's playground. And if you have seen the most recent movie, this is where the entire thing was filmed. So I walked down the grand staircase singing Mascaraed, I found the Phantom's box-number 5, I danced down one of the ballrooms and searched for a secret door but didn't actually find one. And there is actually a river underneath the Opera house just like in the story, we asked (flirted) to go down there but the guide man said  only firemen are allowed down there cause its so dangerous. Yeah right, the phantom probably paid him off to say that. The building was gorgeous of course. Gold filigry and mirrors everywhere. I kept expecting it to be the phantom and not my reflection. The opera house was probably my favorite building in France. 
After that brit and I headed back to the train station where we met up with the whole group and rode the train back to London. It was good to come home. 

[Second half of the blog related pictures are on brit's camera still, check back in a little while and see them when I post them]


Remember how I like to see live theater?

So I've actually done a lot between last England post and Spain and Spain and Wales but blogging is so time consuming and I give up easily. I have dedicated this post to all the shows I have seen during the two specified time period previously stated. So I think that the last show I discussed with you was The Woman in Black, really it was that long ago? That's sad. Let me look real quick. Whoa it is. That is sad. Live theater is seriously my favorite thing to do. Previous to this it was watching movies and it will be back to seeing movies once I leave London, cause unless you're in New York, theater is hardly ever worth it. Ok I'm going to give you the rundown of what shows I have seen. 
Les Miserables
[ Mary, Cameron, Me and Brit at Les Mis ]

So I've never read Les Mis ( that book is like 1500 pages, geez Leo) and I did see the Heidelberg Community Theater perform a shortened version when I was twelve there for I was asleep the whole time. Because of this Les Mis was awesome. I think coming into it mostly blind really added to whole experience. First of all we got sweet seats. I love my international student card. Only students in London can get standby about an hour before the show. Four of us, out of the eight or so who came, got tickets in row G in the stalls, that's on the ground floor for those of you who are theater illiterate, for 27 pounds (roughly fifty bucks). Those tickets actually cost over a hundred pounds. They were really really good seats. 
Second, the set was pretty spectacular. The entire middle was a giant lazy susan making scene changes seamless. You just gotta see it. 
Third, the actors were awesome. Not only did they have great voices but they can actually act. And it is a feat to pull that off in live theater. Les Mis is a pretty depressing play, you know people dying, war and revolution, you know, it was quite moving. So much so that big ole Calvin shed a tear. 

[ These guys, awesome ]

39 Steps

[ This is from their website, it shows some of the actors ]

The 39 steps is a spoof of Hitchcock movies. Now I haven't seen very many of those but the play is still hilarious without it. The show only has four actors, three guys and one girl. All but the main guy (dude with the pipe up there) play tons of roles, like in Monty Python. There was a lot of slapstick humor and things of the like. We got kinda crappy seats, on the extreme right of the stage in the second row. The actors were great, I wouldn't have been able to keep a straight face. The story is about this man who meets a mysterious woman who turns out to be a secret agent with a big top secret, she ends up getting killed and the main guy has to go stop the bad guy, getting framed for the woman's murder in the process. The set was very simplistic, just different furniture brought in for each new scene by the actors. All in all the play was hilarious, I give it two thumbs up. 

[ Best character, kid in front, the Artful Dodger ]

Ok we went to go see this show as a group because the brit lit class read Oliver. With so many people, we got horrible seats; we were in the very very back of the stalls where the balcony overhead blocked the view of the stage. Now I was comparing this performance to the movie I used to watch and it was not so good. The best character was Dodger, he got really into and had a great cockney accent. But Oliver's voice was lacking and even though the character of Nancy is a prostitute that doesn't mean that others of the same profession need to be motioning and displaying their "trade" on stage while Nancy sings Oom Pah Pah with a big smile on her face. It was too much. All in all, I'm glad it was free. 

The World's Wife
[ the book cover ]
Carol Ann Duffy is a pretty famous poet here in the UK, she's the equivalent of the US poet laureate. Calvin, the poetry grad student, had to read this collection of poems for class and as I try to feel intelligent and cultured I too read the collection. I really liked the premise of the collection. Each poem is writing from the point of view of world famous people, for example, Pygmalion, Shakespeare and Faust. Some of the poems are really witty and funny while some are deep and thought provoking. 
Calvin found out that there was a one woman show that was closing soon that dramatized this collection. So Calvin, Cameron, Laura, Susan Howe and I all got tickets and went to see it. The show, as I said was a one woman act and it was in a tiny U shaped theater that seated 100. 
[ Linda Marlowe, said one woman ]
The show was very simple, minor costume changes and props were used at the change of each poem. In the picture is Mrs. King Kong. This poem was a little different from the rest because the author switched it so that the character of King Kong was a woman, and that's her tiny little man husband in her hands. One of my favorites was Mrs. Freud. Linda put on a fur stole and cat eye glasses and spoke in a great German accent and you can imagine what she spoke about....
Another good one was this:
Mrs. Darwin
Went to the Zoo.
I said to Him—
Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of you.
That one was the shortest, nice and simple. 

Phantom of the Opera
[ Alyssa, Rachel, Reesa, Me, Brit and Calvin and creepy mustache ]
Now I saw this very show at this very theater when I was twelve. Frankly, all I really remember was the Phantom's Lair set, the ice cream I got at intermission and that it was good. So coming back was definitely a must. They don't have student tickets so we actually had to pre plan going to see this show. We got great seats:

[ Her Majesty's Theater ]
Ok I didn't take this picture but our seats were on the very front row of this balcony, right in the middle. It was perfect because the chandelier fell right in front of our faces and the all the effects are so much cooler from above. Of course I can only sing praises about this production and I'm sure you don't really want to hear it. One critique is the awful coordination of the ballerinas. I mean come on, its not that hard to keep time and its not like the choreography is too hard to stay in sync. I must say though, the best part is the live orchestra, it totally makes the show. And sitting up above I got to see down into the pit, it was really great. 

[ I don't think this was the Christine when I went but I'm pretty sure that's the same Phantom, hard to tell though....]
PS There is a sequel to Phantom that just started, Love Never Dies, I refuse to see it. It's set in Coney Island. 

Twelfth Night

We went to go see Twelfth Night as a group because the Shakespeare class read it. I like the story of Twelfth Night, thus my love for She's the Man. The production seemed a little lacking, some of the characters were old and dry and I didn't like them very much. The best scene is the one shown on the poster, Malvolio and the box tree. It was hilarious. Another downside was that we again had horrible seats, way up high and way on the side, I could only see the top left corner of the stage. So I listened as best I could with out being distracted by....sleep. 

War Horse
Ok a picture for this one won't load but here's the gist of the play: There are these really cool puppets, they kinda look like a wooden frame of a horse, life size, and underneath them are two dudes who make them move and walk and stuff. That was pretty cool to watch, the puppeteers did a great job. The plot line on the other hand was pretty dismal. Its about a boy who gets a horse, Joey, and he has a weird love relationship with the horse. The horse gets sold to the Army for WWII. Some German guys find him. Farm boy joins the Army to go find the horse. And they do and live happily ever after. It was weird. If you want a pretty honest review, check out Calvin's, mind you he hated it. 

[ poster for Macbeth ]
So the Globe Theater puts on a free show for students before the actual theater season starts (its an open air theater so shows usually start the end of april). This year was Macbeth and through a couple lucky circumstances I was able to get a ticket. So on a Saturday afternoon we made our way down to the Globe and we were the first ones in the theater for the first show of the 2010 Globe theater season. That was a great feeling. Our tickets were for the yard. Which means we got to stand in the yard between the stage and the seats, kinda like a mosh pit at a concert. This is called being a grounding. It's really the best place to be minus the fact that you have to stand the whole time. So being the first people in the theater we got the best place. 

[ sarah, laura, mary, kalyn, brit, me and calvin ]
As you can see we were right up on the stage as close to the middle as you can get. It was fantastic. The actors were right there, I could have tripped them if I wanted too. They looked at us when they spoke, they accidentally spit on us, dripped fake blood on us, etc. It was great. 
Now if you don't know the plot of Macbeth I'll give you a quick rundown: There is a big battle going on in Scotland, Macbeth ends up getting promoted because of deaths of other people. When coming back from battle he and his buddy Banquo get visited by three witches who tell Macbeth that he is going to be the next king and tell Banquo that the royal line will be from his posterity. They get a little freaked out. macbeth tells his wife about it and she says let's kill the king and blame it on the guards and since you got promoted you'll be king. So they did. And then Macbeth is King and he gets all worried that Banquo's kids are gonna take his place so he kills Banquo. So on and so forth, lots of people die, there's lots of blood and spooky hauntings. In the end everyone dies but Macduff, another high up dude, and he becomes king. That doesn't really do it justice, at all. 
This production was set in Scotland, but in modern times, so all the soldiers were wearing camo. What was great about the Globe is that the actors interact with you. They perform all over. A character will pop up in the stands somewhere, or a procession will go through the yard. This play had army men repelling from all sides of the stage. 
[ Thats Banquo, he's awesome ]
The actors talk to you and interact with you, they would make little adlibs to make fun of the audience or something. It was really cool. 
[ I found this online and since there was only one show i'm one of the little pale faces on the other side of the middle plank] 
The actors did a really good job of being compelling. They were all really passionate about their characters and you could tell by how they acted. There was live music and really cool stunts and "special affects." It all kinda sucked you in to the story. My favorite was the guy who played Macbeth:

[ this is from a rehearsal ]
He was astounding. He did a phenomenal job. He had great facial expressions and a real intensity in all his lines. I had a little crush on him, too bad he dies. 
All in all this was the epitome of my London experience. It'll probably be the best play I'll ever see.

An Inspector Calls

It's really hard to write a review for this after talking about Macbeth. I even saw this the same day that I saw Macbeth. This is a play about a family that gets ripped apart when an Inspector comes knocking on their door. He tells them of a girl who killed herself in the infimory that night and the family discovers how they are all connected to her and how they all lead her to her suicide. The entire play is one scene. It took a little to get use to because all you do is watch them talk in the same room. But the plot was pretty interesting. Then there's a twist at the end when you find out the inspector doesn't really work for the police and I got really confused. But regardless of my confusion, the actors did, of course, a great job. The mother in the family was pretty back bitting and witty and that was funny. 

[ the set ]
The play centered around this little house. Its like a doll house, the door is not full size but still big enough for an adult to crouch down under. The front half of the house opens up like a doll house. It was pretty cool. At the climax of the play the house rises up and tilts forward causing all the dishes and chairs and things to come crashing out onto the stage. That really put the point across that this family's world was shattering, quite literally. I enjoyed the show, but it was no Macbeth.

The Royal Ballet's Romeo and Juliet
[ not the same dancers, but same choreography ]

On a whim I skipped class and went to the Royal Opera House box office and got the only tickets available for that night's production of Romeo and Juliet. One of the other girls here, Laura, has done ballet her whole life too and we were really excited to see the Royal Ballet do pretty much anything, but Romeo and Juliet was just a happy surprise. 
So on a Tuesday night, we got all dolled up:

[ brit, me and laura ]
Our tickets were standing tickets back we still got a pretty decent view. I did however had my shoes off the whole time. The production was spotless. All the dancers were pretty much amazing, as they should be to get into the Royal Ballet, but Juliet is my idol. Later we found out that the Juliet we saw was the alternate, but we are so glad it was here. Juliet was flawless, she melted across the stage. Every move was so effortless. Her par de deux with Paris and then again with Romeo were the best dancing I have ever seen. I can  not say enough how elegantly she flowed.
Being a dancer and knowing how much effort and strength is actually involved in those movements makes all the more impressive. She is my idol.