Sunday, January 30, 2011

Finding France

The last few days have been splendid.
Last you heard from me I was stil in England. And now I have made my way to France-  our journey started with an afternoon train to Lille, a small town north of paris- where a fellow couch surfer lived. 
We almost missed our stop, the train ride was so fast! And there was a time change as well (+1) We were just chillin on the train when we come to a stop that says Lille Europe- we jumped off and found our way to the metro station. I'm not gonna lie- the first few minutes were a bit intimidating- coming from English England to French France. But we found our way:)
Tried an extremely sweet cherry beer that night so I slept veeery well. Then we headed into Paris the next day- walked up to the Sacre-Coeur and took a few walks around and about. The next day we hit up the Operahouse- oh my! It was so gorgeous! Beautiful chandelleirs, painted ceilings, the grand auditorium, Phantom of the Opera.
I have A new facination with operas and classical music- when I get home im goin to do my share of studying and enjoying/listening to it more- now that is what you call music. 
Anyways, our next adventure included a trip down to Nantes, France- which included a tour of the town, a couch surfing crepe party, Japanese food, local wine, and hanging with our Awesome host and her friends! It was a weekend to remember especially the gigantic crepe party- abou 85 couch surfers show up and we made galletes- which are salty crepes and crepes which are the sweet ones we all know and love.
Common galletes have egg, cheese, and ham in them and they are tasty- also go great with two types of ciders- one sec and one sweeter (they call it deaux).

The next day started out with a 730am train ride back to Paris, filled up with a visit to the Arc de Triomphe, a walk down Champs-Elysees, and a visit to the Eiffel tower.
I am so exhausted though- hoping my bedtime to be 10pm.

So far, my favorite place in France has been the Opera house-but that could change due to the fact that we are going to the Louvre tomorrow and a couple parks! Im going to be honest with you- France is not a huge deal for me- I would much rather see other places than Paris, but nontheless it is full of art and culture which i am a huge fan of. And more than seeing places I have enjoyed meeting people and trying different foods/drinks. And I have yet to eat a cupcake in France! They have amazing pastries, but still haven't found my cupcake- maybe tomorrow...
Crepes are bomb, kabobs are bomb, cafe au laits, and macroons also rock. I could go on forever.  
So far, French people are nice and welcoming, not too anal about tourists maybe because we are visiting off-season?
I've been thinking and I dont think I could ever not travel, it seems like every two years or so I get this itch to travel and it needs to be scratched and it seems like everytime I do it, it's before something big happens in my life or something significant- I dunno I can't explain it really....
Anyways, sorry for lack of pictures, The computer at the hostel doesn't have a USB port and I can't do it on an iPod. Oh and French keyboards are so lame! 
Well goodbye for now, keep praying for us- so far everywhere we go has had amazing weather- no rain just freezing cold days. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Enjoying England: Hereford and Oxford


So yesterday we spent our time in Hereford at Leslie's mom, 
Lina's house. She is soooooo sweet and hospitable! It was a great time to get away from the busyness of 
London and just to relax and enjoy our time... I got to sleep in till 
about ten then we got some breakfast and walked to town with beth, her granddaughter. She's a sweetheart- 18 years old and in college 
and plays bass guitar. So we walked and chatted with her on our way to 
town. Hereford is a pretty small town- most people walk and bike and 
the pace of life is a LOT slower than London. Which was a nice break 
from the craziness o London. We got some coffee, tried some Cornish  pasties (traditional calzones-style thingsr with meat potatoes and  onion, only about 100x better than American ones), got coffee and just 
took in the town- people are more friendly here. Then on our way home 
bought some black pudding and some flowers for lina and made our way 
home just in time to talk to Marshall on the phone. He cares 
about us so much and we definitely appreciate it. :)
After dinner (pasta, salad, grilled veggies, and a sample of black 
pudding- which honestly wasn't so bad! I wouldn't have a whole Piece 
of it, but I wasn't that appalled- maybe because I grew up on liver 
sandwiches anyways. After dinner we watched Mamma Mia! A cheesy movie 
but I didn't mind because I slept for the first half and got to hear awesome ABBA songs.

We got up early today and headed for Oxford for the day. I LOVE this town! Definitely a college town, but full of history and culture...and interesting things such as Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, C.S. Lewis, and JRR Tolkien. 
First place we went to was The Eagle and Child- a pub where CS Lewis used to go to for a pint, sit and talk with JRR, debate about Christianity and spend his spare time. It was a cute little pub, we took some pictures, had lunch, then went exploring around town. Stopped by a Natural History Museum, a few churches, and down to Christ Church....
Oxford is FULL of history...! It's absolutely everywhere- there are a bunch of different colleges, museums, shops, and libraries. 
Now for my favorite part today. 
I could not have left this town without visiting CS Lewis' grave and church he attended. So I looked it up and knew it was in Headington, a suburb of Oxford, so we grabbed a bus and made our way to it. I wasn't sure where it was, so on the bus I prayed God would show us the way. We went to the Post Office, they gave us general directions, but the real help came when one lady, walking her dog, passed us and I asked her if she knew where it was. She gave us directions very clearly and then told us she went to that church! 
The church was enclosed in a gate/brick wall and the cemetery surrounded it. It was so serene, as we walked in a flock of birds flew by, thin mist surrounded us, and cloudy sky dwelled above us. Few people were on the path nearby as well. It felt so still, to no suprise, for it was a cemetery. 
Following signs to his grave, I found it. And it was beautifully laid out on the ground, no headstone or anything. It had a cross on it and some memorable words along with two bouquets of flowers. I almost started crying. 
We then entered the church, a medium-sized church. It looked like the pastor and someone were having a meeting in the front left, but they didn't mind. Saw and sat where CS Lewis would sit with his brother when he would go to church! The back left of the church. You know what's kinda funny is that he would go for 8 am communion, then leave before the sermon was over- he didn't like church singing or boring sermons. ALSO, the Narnia window was there as well. 
Then we made our way back to town, stopped by a Jaimie Oliver Italian place, had some great snacks then caught the bus back to London. 
And that's where my story ends today- Tomorrow we head to France via the Chunnel

I want to say THANK YOU and MISS YOU to everyone out there who is praying and thinking about us. Could not do this trip without all of your support and love. You are all so special to me and not a day goes by without me thinking of you all! Keep us in your prayers. 
Until next time! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Loving London- the Last Few Days

Note: read this blog BACKWARDS! Start with Friday
Today started out early, with a walk in Hyde park across the street from our hostel. It was a good morning, I actually got up earlier than I had planned and sorted out some stuff in my bag- it is so heavy. 30 lbs. And I know that may not sound like alot but Its kinda heavy for me, but i try to look on the bright side- I get a little workout while I'm at it. 
Anyways, back to my story. The park was beautiful, chilly, foggy, and perfect for a Sunday morning walk. Greeting people along the way, we made our way to the peter pan statue, a treasure casey has been dying to see. And it was great.  Then we took a walk back to the street our hostel is on and got some coffee and croissants for only £1.50! It was tasty. Then we made our way to Oxford St. (or Oxford circus) with shopping in mind. 
Now let me tell you about this street- it's a shopaholics dream, a husband's nightmare, and our morning enjoyment. There are a million stores in this area ranging from h&m, Zara, Nike, Apple store, EVERYTHING you can imagine- there's big streets, small alleys, classy pubs, starbucks (of course) and everything in between. We got some coffee and waited for the stores to open, here they don't open till 11 or 12 on Sundays. We did some window shopping and found some GOOD deals. We left poor Matt at starbucks while we went on our adventure, And he was super cool about it. 
Then we made our way to victoria station (the big downtown train/subway/bus station) only to find out that we had to go back to the station we came from because the line we wanted was closed...I guess that happens alot here and this weekend was a mess for some lines. But anyways, a few subways later we came to paddington station where we bought tickets to Hereford, our next stop, whose train we are on as we speak.   

We left about 10 am from matt's tiny place and eared toward the station only to find out that the subway was off to the bus station we go and get to ride through the east India district Whig was very interesting, i picked up a cupcake from a local bakery (carrot cake) and ate it. That was for Kristen by the way, she challenged me to eat a cupcake in every county I go to and I gladly accepted:). 
Afterwards we headed toward our new hostel and ate at an all you can eat pasta-pizza-salad place then Off we went to the Sherlock Holmes museum! Then we took a Long walk to Abbey road and walked where the Beatles walked! On our way back we stopped at a pub for a Guiness and some shandys- an English drink mixed with beer and Ginger ale (or lemonade). Matt says it's lemonade but I swear it's gingerale haha. We met some Englishman and debated about music, politics, and differences in culture and then we headed off to bed.
Today was the best day ever! Met up with casey's friend matt and did some sightseeing. Started out with walking along the Thames river, then stopping by wesminster abbey- which was absolutely gorgeous! We were able to go into this other smaller church next to it- st. Mary's where we didnb have to pay to get in. I was able to sneak some video if the inside of the church becuase no cameras were allowed. :/ we had lunch that day At another nicholsons, the same type of restaurant we ate at the day before- I think it's loike a mcmenamins because they are all called nicholsons bu different pubs have different names but the same food. We did some more sightseeing that day- going by the London tower and across the bridge, seeing and standing on Shakespeare's stage! Which was awesome- the dors were open and no one was inthere so we took out pics and video and ran out!  The day ended with us riding buses and trains back to our hostel then to east London university, where we stars that night.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Landed in London

Hello everybody! Wish I had a cooler greeting, but here everybody says hello....So, hello.
Things are good....Landed at Gatwick Airport at about 6:54ish this dark and cold morning. When we got off the plane it was dark, when we left the airport it was light, cloudy, and chilly. I can't explain the feeling of arriving in a new place, its like being born on another planet, like giving birth to something strange yet beautiful, like.....okay I'll stop.
We also met our new friend, Steve, as we were waiting for our first train from the airport to downtown London- the Victoria station. The airport we landed at is about 1/2 hour south of London, so we had to take the train. As we got we started talking, he's pretty cool, traveling by himself/his first to Europe/and he's 21. So when we got to London we all grabbed some coffee, used wifi and decided to stay at the same hostel he was staying at which turned out to be awesome- closer and cheaper than the one we were going to stay at. It's all of ours first hostel experience, so we'll see how it turns out, but I expect it to be a good one, everything is clean and people are friendly.
So, after dropping off all our stuff at the hostel at about 10 am, we took off to explore London! Walked what seemed like a lot (maybe because we have been sitting for like 12 hours straight), but saw some amazing things- like the Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guards, double decker buses, 5 Starbucks (none of which we walked into), the Ritz hotel, Green Park (so cute), St. James Church (awesome local church), The Cambridge Pub (AMAZING fish-n-chips and fried Brie), the British Museum (a FREE museum with Europe's art and history including two pieces by Michealangelo and Pablo Picasso) may not seem like alot but the streets are sooo packed with places, people, cars driving on the opposite side the road that drive a little more dangerously than mellow Northwesters.
So far the coffee has been great, had a couple coffees today and can't complain. Oh and there are sooo many pubs, oriental medicine, and ethnic food places almost everywhere. So yep.
I'm still wide awake right now which comes to me as a shock. It's about 5:38pm here and hopefully going to bed by 7 tonight...tomorrow is another big day and it might be our last day in London, so we're going to live it up!
Love and miss everybody home....and thank you for the challenges, we are actively pursuing them and hope to get them all done.
Me, Steve, and Casey in front of Buckingham Palace