November 27, 2005

Back across the pond

I'm headed home tomorrow morning. I'll try to update my 2 days in London after I get home. It was fantastic! Tonight, I went to Shannon's church. It was great to worship with other believers on the other side of the world. See you on the other side!
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November 24, 2005

More views of the beautiful land...

William Wallace's monument. He is honored very greatly here. The movie Braveheart is pretty much accurate with what really happened. His sword is in the museum in the monument. It's over 5ft 5 in tall. Taller than me! He was about 6ft 6 inches. The monument is beautiful and well done. I didn't go inside to the museum though. Everything costs a fortune to go in here.
The battlefield where William the Bruce (also in the movie) finally wins independance after Wallace is killed. The mist was heavy when we first arrived and began to clear as our tour guide explained what had happened there. Very chilling. You could feel the history alive around you. And it was a photographers paradise.
Edinburg Castle at night. Another reason I love it here. They light up their monuments at night. This was taken not to far outside our hostel door. You had to look almost straight up to see it. Didn't go in though because it was another expensive charge to do so. But I thought the view from the outside was worth it! Tomorrow we are off to London. Hopefully it will be nice, but they are calling for snow! It's freezing (literally below that) right now. We are going to do the hop on hop off tour bus before coming back to have and American Thanksgiving dinner with Shannon's friends.
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Photos of Scotland

This is Loch Ness (home of Nessie and no we didn't see him). As you can see, the weather was bad on this tour. It was very foggy and cloudy. It covered most of the mountains that were in the highlands. The Highlands of Scotland are a hikers paradise! I would love to come back again in the summer when the mountain sides are covered in purple heather. The tour we took was really bad compared to the one we took to Loch Lomand and William Wallace land. But, we did get to see it!
This is Loch Lomond. It was literally breaktaking. Even these pictures don't due it justice. I couldn't stop taking pictures, and yet I wish I had time to just sit and enjoy it more than I did. The water was so calm that night. Our tour guide said it was one of the most perfect weather days she had ever seen. I agree!
This is outside our hostel. See how all the buildings are in stone. This a 1% taste of what it was like. The castle is just behind them up on a huge rocky hill.

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Scotland Part 2

The third day we were in Scotland was our free day. We slept in and the went to breakfast at my favorite spot The Elephant House (see below entry). Then we went out and looked around the city some more. We went to the Sir Walter Scott monument, which is really cool. It's stained black from chimney smoke from back in the 1800's. We also found this hill overlooking the city with lots of interesting monuments. We ended the day with some shopping and dinner. When we went back to the hostel at night, we stayed up late talking and laughing and annoying our roommates once again.
Scotland is so is Loch Ness.
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Hero and Loch Lomand

"I could swim Loch Lomond and be home in half an hour." That's a song line in one of my favorite musicals Brigadoon. It's about a mythical town in Scotland. I realized how accurate it was on our tour to Loch Lomond.
It was a hero tour as well. We went to Sterling (which sounds so much neater when you say it with a Scotish accent). We also went to a battlefield (that's right, momma, a battlefield) where the Scottish people won their independence from the English. We went to a monument for William Wallace as well. The real William Wallace just like in Braveheart. There is so much to tell about that, but not enough time.
Loch Lomond was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. We got there right at sunset (3:30/4:00) and our tour guide, Penny, (a gem) took us up a mountain to get a good view of it. The colors and clouds in the sky were reflected in the still waters of the loch. There were sheep grazing on a hillside of green grass. The air was cold and brisk. My camera was working overtime. I will put up pictures so everyone can enjoy it too. If you ever get a chance to go, do it!

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Edinburg aka "Edinburo"

We stayed right in the center of old town Edinburg. The Scottish call it "Edinburo." Who would have known? The city is just so beautiful. For some reason, I expected all the cities I vistited over here to be the same. Total lie. They are all so distinctly different and interesting and fun in their own way. Edinburg is probably my favorite city, but tied for first with Paris. The buildings are all stone. Big tall building, but not sky scrapers. It's not overwhelming either. We walked everywhere. And there were lots of places to eat. (good for MommyGina) Once again, if it wasn't for the exchange rate, we would have lived quite cheap.
The people, for the most part except for choice few restaurant workers, were very nice. Their accent in hypnotizing. In the background of the city is mountains covered in heather and the water too.
My favorite place in the city was The Elephant House. It's a cafe and so cute. We had breakfast there one morning. The coolest thing about it? It's the place the J.K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book. You can see why. It had so much atmosphere.
Will write more next about Loch Lomond (my favorite place in Scotland)....

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Scotland part 1

I had to check all this stuff in my journal cause the days seem to run together when you're on vacation....
We arrived in Scotland in the early afternoon/late morning. First impressions...absolutely brilliant (the English say this all the time and I'm tired of using the same words to describe things. I need a large vocabulary of descriptive words). The city is very old. The focal point is a large castle that sits on a HUGE hill over looking everything. We stayed in Old Town. It's kinda divided up into Old Town and New Town although new is still in the late 1700's. Hello, young America!
Shannon booked us in a hostel. (I must first mention that everything here is VERY expensive. That's only because of the exchange rate. Every price is just about doubled. So even though I paid £5 for dinner last night, it really cost me $10. And that's eating cheap. But it's so worth it.) We stayed at a hostel because they are so much cheaper than hotels. This was my first time (G, J and S's too) staying in a hostel, and let me just tell you what an experience it is. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We walked from the bus (from the airport to Edinburg) to our hostel with J lugging hers and G's HUGEMONGOUS suitcase up a mile long hill. From that moment we realized that she was our little energizer bunny on this trip. We found our hostel The Castle Rock. It was at the base of the castle in a perfect part of town for us. Hostel life isn't for the princess at heart though. We stayed in a dorm style room with 16 beds. The 5 of us weren't the most popular girls in our room. Let's just say, we aren't the most quiet bunch when together.
I could go on and on about the hostel, but it will take forever, so I'll skip ahead....
I'll actually post this and then tell you about Edinburg because it is magnificent.
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Sorry to everyone who has been waiting for an update. I've been in Scotland since Sunday and we haven't been able to get on the internet. I'm going to break up the last few days into a couple of entries since it may take a while. I'll also try to add pictures later tonight. (it's 4:20 here and just about dark too)

Anna Beth and I spent a relaxing day on our own while G and J came flew in. We went shopping at The Lanes in Brighton and spent a couple hours reading and relaxing in a Borders. I think I was most proud of us that we managed to figure out the bus system all by ourselves.
After the other two got in, we sat around and talked until the evening when we went to dinner at Paul and Wendy's house. Paul is the guy in charge of Off the Fence, the organization that Shannon volunteers with. By the time we left dinner, G and J were about comatose because of jet lag (once again, so thankful that God chose to let me skip jet lad while in Paris!!). We got back to Shannon's and then left for our respective houses. Anna Beth and I are staying with a really nice family about a 20 minute walk away.
We had to get up early the next morning (at the bus by 5:15amEnglandtime/12:00midnight EST). Needless to say, we were all a bit tired the next day.
Gonna stop here and post this. Will add Scotland next......
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November 18, 2005

Goblet of Fire

Anna Beth and I are staying with a family that Shannon knows through Off the Fence. They were nice enough to give us a room to share. It's about a 20 minute walk from Shannon's house. We slept in today and then walked to her house for breakfast. We had decided that today would be the day we would go see Harry Potter (the new one came out here today like it did in the US). Since it gets dark so early around here (black as night by 5:00) we didn't do too much else.
The movie was really good. If you love the books, you may be disappointed though because they had to leave out so much. It was really neat to hear phases that I've learned here and understand the whole culture a little bit better. It was almost 3 hours long, so we came out right as the sun was setting. We walked down to Brighton Pier and took pictures and walked around some. Then we went out to dinner at a restaurant in town.
Tomorrow, Anna Beth and I are on our own until 3:30. Shannon is going to pick up G and J at the airport. It's a 2 hour busride from here. We are going to go in town and shop some and sit in a coffee shop and read.
I love that everyone here offers you a cup of tea. It's almost expected. I also love that life is slower and not as crazy, but that could also be because I'm on vacation.... I love that there are 100 year old churches next to a row house with a Mini Cooper outside in the driveway. I love that everyone has an accent because I can't stop laughing at every thing they say.
I've been here for a whole week now and I still have another one to go. Sunday is going to be crazy. We have to be at the bus stop at 5:15AM!!! Then we fly to Scotland and I get to fall in love with a whole 'nother country. We are praying that it won't be freezing cold. The weather turns really cold once the sun goes down here and Scotland is even further north. Oh, well. We'll enjoy it cold or not....

(sorry pictures wouldn' t work today)
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November 17, 2005


I went to a place today called Arundel (sounds like Air-un-del even though it looks like Anne Arundel. I think this may be where the name of the county came from, but not sure). There was a beautiful castle and a couple really old churches there. Some of the original parts of the castle were built in 1067! The castle and grounds were closed for the winter, but we got to see it from the town.
Shannon drove us around in the Off the Fence car. No public transportation today. We drove through the amazingly,beautiful, English countryside. It was so green and there were tons of fields separated by tree lines. It looked alot like Prince Edward Island. There were lots of villages surrounded by fields.
Then we went to Devil's Dyke which is near Brighton. It's a huge hill that overlooks miles and miles of the countryside. You can see all the way to Brighton. There were lots of paragliders there because of the wind. We ate lunch on an old stone bench while watching the paragliders sail across the valley.
It was cold today, but clear again. The sun was out all day. Big blue sky. We had a wonderful day and are having a nice relaxing evening at home. Tomorrow, we have decided to stay in Brighton and go see Harry Potter!!!!! I really am just beside myself in excitement (did that sound British?). After seeing so much of England, I've been able to understand English stories better now. I can picture them. Peter Pan, Harry Potter, Winnie the Pooh, Sense and Sensibility, Emma. They all seem to make more sense and just have so much more depth. I love it here. It's so neat that this is my heritage too. Maybe that's why it feels so comfortable.
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November 16, 2005

everything worked out perfectly

Sometimes, the greatest plans are the ones you don't make. We discovered this today as we decided to make a trip to Windsor to see the castle of the Royal family. It was a 2 hour train ride away through the country sides of England. (the grass is vibrant green here. beautiful!) We hit every train just as it was coming into the station and never had to wait more than about 10 minutes. (huge blessing! God was "blessing" on us today!) We had several strangers help us with cheap tickets on the train (thanks ever so nice ticket lady in Hove...), a map from a stanger on the train, and a nice train conductor let us sit in the first class section because the train was full. (I was in Harry Potter world again with an actual person offering us goodies from the treat trolley on the train. I so desperately wanted to say "we'll take the lot" as Harry does in the movie.)
Windsor is a beautiful little town with lots of fun shops and cafes and historical sights. The castle was beautiful against the bright blue sky (another thanks, clear day, but cold). We also saw Eton college, which was fasinating. The boys have to dress in almost formal wear to class (coats with tails and bow ties). We happened to walk through that part of town when they were changing classes. It was really neat.
After eating lunch on a bench on the Thames (how often can one say that?!) we hopped back on the train and headed to London (free train ride because of our nice ticket lady earlier in the day). I stepped out of the station to see the London Eye, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey at sunset. Seriously, best day for perfect timing. It was a quick taste of London. We were only there for about an hour ("spent an hour in London today" how many times can I say that one, as well?!!) and hopped back on the train and headed back to Brighton. I'm so excited to go back to London!!
We are going to places near Brighton tomorrow. A castle and something else Anna Beth has seen before. Then Friday we will go to London again since we will only get to be there for one day when G and J come. I want to see some stuff that won't be in our quick overview of the big stuff that we do with them.
Still enjoying England so much. Miss all my friends and family. Thanks for your emails and notes. It's great to hear from each of you. Here are some pictures to enjoy.....
Westminister Abbey. It was so HUGE that it couldn't fit in one picture.
I finally saw a red phone booth near the castle!
The changing of the guard (another perfect timing. 10 minutes after we got off of the train it went by and it only happens 2 times a day, every other day in November....) parade came out of this entry way on the left. Bagpipes and everything. AB was in heaven.
How amazing is this! I kept imagining I saw Peter Pan and Wendy, Micheal and John flying around Big Ben. It was incredible to actually be there....
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November 15, 2005

The moon was out tonight

Anna Beth arrived safe and sound early this morning. The three of us spent the morning talking and just laying around Shannon's house. As the sun started to set, we for a walk down to Brighton Beach. The actual beach is rocks, not sand. Smooth rocks. The moon was big and bright tonight.
We are still trying to decide what to do before the rest of our group gets here at the end of the week. Pretty much ruled out Ireland because it will just take to long to get there and cost too much. We will just do stuff here in England, but not sure what yet.
I love England. It so reminds me of Harry Potter. Brighton is a cute city, but closes down early. By 5:00 all the shops are closed for the day. It's all so very different from the US. I just love that I'm able to travel and see other parts of the world and expand my view of how people live. It's so easy to get caught up in life as I know it and forget that there are millions of people around the world who live their lives every day like I do. Travel is so educational as well as fun!

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November 14, 2005

Paris pics 2

Since I didn't take any photos today, thought I'd send some more of Paris since I have almost 200 to share. I went a little crazy with the photos, but now am so happy cause I can re-live so much of the trip!
The doors into Notre Dame.

The Arc de Triomphe. Amazingly beautiful and so much bigger that I thought.

This is a shop on the street where we ate dinner. I loved this section of town. It was full of shops and restaurants and cafes.

The metro signs were so cool! This was my favorite of the several types there were. It just looks like old world Paris to me.

The courtyard in the Louvre was probably my favorite spot. It went all the way around in a complete square and had a fountain too. Just look how small the people are in reference to the buildings around them. I was in awe and couldn't say anything when I first walked in because of how beautiful it was.

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Today was a wonderful, relaxing day in Brighton, where Shannon lives. It's right on the Channel in the southeast side of England. We went shopping and just walked around the town. Everyone rides the public bus here. And they are double decker buses, too. If you ever come to Brighton, pay your £2.90 to ride for the day and sit on the top in the front seat and just watch the town go by. Lovely.
This was the first morning that I slept in. In Paris, we got up every morning to get to the city early to see everything there was to see in the 2 days we were there. I haven't really had jet lag at all. (praise God) Paris was 6 hours ahead of home, so I was expecting to be so tired. I slept on the plane on my way over here and then stayed up till about 1:00 the night I got here. Got up at 6:30 Paris time (1:30am EST) and was totally fine all day. The hardest part is falling asleep at night, but it's not so bad. So thankful for that. ANYWAYS, I digress...
It was a fun day. I went to visit Jez, Nancy (Shannon's roommate) and Shannon's friend. He lives in a flat (by the way, I'm loving the English accent and words all around me!!! It's fantastic!) right on the Channel. He has a huge window that over looks the water and we watched the sun set over the water and chatted and had tea and coffee. So relaxing and so nice.
Anna Beth comes in tomorrow really early, so I'm going to Gatwick with Shannon to pick her up. Then we will do whatever. Haven't decided if it will be Ireland or just stay in England and do stuff here like Stonehenge. I'm just still loving being here and enjoying this culture so much. It feels very familiar. I hear my Grandma's voice (she's from England) in the conversations around me. And I love all their unique expressions. Maybe I'll be able to pick up on some and use them when I get back. I keep trying to get Shannon and Nancy to explain them to me so I will use them properly. Sorry, didn't take any pictures today (shocker, yes, I know. especially with the sunset, but just didn't).
(Miss you, friends and family. Send me an email or sign the guestbook and let me know how all of you are doing in America.)
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November 13, 2005

the sights through a lens

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friends in paris

Shannon, Rachel nor Ronny had read The DaVinci Code, so they didn't understand the significance of this spot!!! I just wanted to see the inverted pyramid. This picture doesn't show how HUGE it is!

Outside of the Louvre. We were freezing at the end of the jump on and off bus so we went to get something to warm us up. Oh, Starbucks. Even in the ancient city...
This was one of my favorite spots that we saw on the bus tour. We got back to the here in the evening and stayed to watch them turn on the lights at the Eiffel Tower. We met a couple from NY who took this picture for us.
Notre Dame bell tower. This tiny door leads to where the giant bell is. It's in a room full of wood that is 100's of years old. Shannon and I went here this morning before we had to leave to catch our flight to England. It was quite a hike up a 1 way spiral staircase.

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where do I start...

So much has happened in the two days that I got here that I don't know where to start....
Paris: It's dreamy. It's old, yet feels so comfortable, new and fresh. It is filled with things that I've never experienced in my life in America. The Eiffel Tower at night (it sparkles like a million twinkling fireflies had just landed on it). The Louvre (didn't think I'd be to impressed, but I was so sad to leave after just a few short hours there. It's literally indescribable). Notre Dame (you can just imagine yourself seeing Quazimodo hunching up and down the narrow circular staircases). The Champs Elyeeses (crowded, fast, a mall in the middle of an ancient city). The row houses with window boxes full of red geraniums. The sounds of the French language floating around in the people standing next to me. The cobblestone roads and 100+ year old bridges. The Seine river lazily floating through the middle of the street full of boats. The whole city was like a story book that you love to read about and one day the city that you've loved to picture in your mind appears before you and you can walk around in it and feel it and smell it and live in it.
I was sad to leave it today. I keep saying French words even though they are no longer nessesary in England. The best part of the trip, by far, was sharing it with friends. Meeting Rachel and Ronny there and having Shannon with me was just perfection. It's the best way to get lost on the subway and the best way to try and figure out what the cashier is trying to explain to you in a foreign language. It felt like a huge adventure and a vaction of a lifetime. We saw so much and laughed our way through the city.
When I think of Paris now, it won't be black and white pictures of the Eiffel tower or scenes from Sabrina or Funny Face. It will be Rachel saving us all at the Metro ticket counter with her many semesters of French. It will be Shannon and I laughing on the get-on-get-off bus as we sat in the damp morning air on the top of the double decker and watched Paris in all it's glory go by. It will be chatting with Ronny as Rachel and Shannon shop in a local shop in the middle of a little alleyway with French flying about in the background. Oh, how I wish all of you could experience a day like that....

(more to come later)
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November 10, 2005

insert john williams "hook" theme here

So, today is THE day. I leave in 4 hours. The fun part? I've got a cold and not feeling great. Here's hoping that I sleep the whole way and wake up a new, well person. Paris is waiting!!! I've got lots of sights to see when I land. I've been praying non-stop that my eardrums won't burst on the flight. Doesn't that just sound terrifying?!!
Thank the Lord that He knows the reason behind why all this is happening cause I'm ready to curl up on my comfy bed and sleep/cry right now. I'm just reminded over and over that my best layed plans are still nothing compared to His providential one. I've been so focused on myself lately that I needed a little lesson in how blessed I really am to be going on this trip.

(I named this entry the above title because it reminds me of flying and being so happy and excited about life. That's how I feel right now even though it may be a bit deep inside at the moment.)
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November 09, 2005

I love ya, tomorrow, only a day away....

It's here. Seriously. I leave tomorrow.... There's a million last minute things to do. Phone calls to make (if I die in a plane crash, everyone has to know I love them and that I was thinking of them). Clothes to wash (in spite of the water at home that is yellow and full of iron at this moment). And I almost left my prized possesion at a retreat center yesterday....I think I would have cried over that for weeks. Thank the Lord that He was watching out for the little things or I would have had no pictures from my trip. Oh, the packing to be done.
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November 04, 2005

through the "looking" glass

I've always seen life through a camera lens, be it video or still shot. When I see something beautiful or special, I immediately look for my camera to save it forever. I've never been into paintings or other such types of art, but show me some photography (Ansel Adams) and I'm hooked.

Was wondering why? What is it that makes me want to freeze something in time? Why do I see small sections of life when so much of it is going on around me? When think about the future, I think about it in snap shots. Pictures of the big events in my life in a photo album.
I guess that's what makes "art". When someone sees something in a different way than just simply observing it.

This is what I want to capture on my trip. Not just stand back and shoot the picture of the place, but "see" it. When I (or even someone else) looks at the pictures, I want them to experience it like I did when I was there. The question is, how do I get that on film?
Maybe in Paris and London, I will find my style, my sweet spot with my camera. Here's hopin'....
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November 02, 2005

can't live without...

chapstick (it goes with me everywhere)


hotmail (it makes living far from friends livable)

a good read (currently in search of one....suggestions?)

my check card (just because I can remember the days of not having cash when the ATM was 5 miles away)


My journal (writing is free therapy. love re-reading my past)

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November 01, 2005

freakin' cold campin' trip

I'll admit it. Finally after years of denial. I am a princess at times. I love my makeup, my fluffy pillow and my nice clothes. So when my sister and her husband asked me to go camping "tent camping" to be exact, I'll admit I wasn't too excited. Please remember that it's Fall in the Mid-Atlantic, which means cold evenings. COLD. I brought extra stuff to stay warm, but when the sun set, it was of no avail.

Aside from the freezing, it was a fun trip. We did a short hike to this cool spot on the top of the "mountain". I almost dove to my death trying to get to that spot before the timer ran out on my camera.

It was amazing that these really cool rock formations were here as we left the trail in the woods. These are East Coast mountains. Not rocky peaks.
This is me and the sis at an over look on the way out. We were finally warm after a campfire breakfast. I love this picture. I love silhouettes.

We laughed alot. Talked around the campfire (a favorite activity). Stared at the stars for a long time. Cold, yes, but so worth the memories.

And I still brought my makeup....
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