It’s been a two weeks between the last blog because last weekend I went on an adventure trip with IFSA-Butler, the study abroad program that I’m studying through. The weekend consisted of kayaking around a windy loch and gorge scrambling (climbing up a gorge that has a river coursing through it attempting to stay dry for as long as possible). I, as well as all the members of my group, got SOAKING WET during both activities so I didn’t bring my camera because it would have died a horrible, wet death. IFSA took pictures of us in our full body, sexy, giant waterproof outfits and I was going to wait to blog about the trip until they sent us the photos but apparently they are in no rush at all because it’s been a week and they haven’t contacted me with the pictures and SO MANY MORE ADVENTURES have happened since.
…such as last Monday when I went to go see the Head and the Heart play Glasgow for a mere 11 pounds which is nothing compared to how much tickets cost in Seattle. It was so fun. I was really close to the stage and sang along to every single song…yes, I knew all of them. They killed it, obviously. Seattle represent!
Then on Wednesday evening I went to a really fun dinner party, thrown for one of the leaders of the International Society for his birthday. I’ve never heard ‘Happy Birthday’ sung in so many languages in one night. There was English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Polish, Greek, and more! It was a great night and reminded me of how amazing it is that even though I’m in Scotland I’ve been having a worldly experience here. Here’s a couple photos of the night:
Then on Thursday I packed a bag and caught a train to LONDON for the weekend! There I met up with Kathleen, a friend from Dallas, who offered me a bed to sleep in while she was there for her spring break! It was the best opportunity ever – catching up with a friend in an AMAZING city!
On Friday we went down to the theatre district to buy day-of tickets for Once, the Musical. We got the last two 25 pound tickets available…..AND THEY WERE IN THE FRONT ROW. More on that later 😉
Then we went to Trafalgar Square and saw all the cool statues:
Then we went into the National Gallery and perused ancient and beautiful art. After the National Gallery we saw the Portrait Gallery which has portraits of famous British people from the past and present. We grabbed a quick lunch at Pret and then headed to the Tower of London to go on a tour. These tours are led by beefeaters, ceremonial guardians of the tower who live and work there. Our tour guide told us the bloody history of the castle that is famed for its many, many executions – most of Henry the VIII’s wives had their heads chopped off here, including Anne Boleyn. Here’s a picture of me disrespecting history in front of Anne Boleyn’s execution spot. It’s a miracle I could even get Kathleen to take this picture of me:
This place also has the Crown Jewels which are dead bolted in at night. I’ve never seen so many bejeweled, shiny things in one place since looking into Kathleen’s wardrobe!
After seeing both the extreme gore and extreme luxury of the Tower’s History we walked over the beautiful Tower Bridge looking out over the River Thames.
We then went to South Bank for a bit – to buy tour tickets for the National Theatre for the following day, to peruse through a second-hand book market, and to have a nice dinner of fish and chips near the water.
Then, we went back to the theatre district to end the day in the best imaginable way – seeing Once in the FRONT ROW. For those unfamiliar, Once is a simple but beautiful story and the songs are very folksy so all the actors also play instruments, guitars, fiddles, pianos, drums, accordions, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles etc. It was like front seats to a concert and a play. And the cast did an absolutely stunning job. It’s easily one of my new favorite musicals. I laughed and cried – Kathleen and I both were quite a mess after the performance, actually. I’d see it again. and again and again and again, but nothing will compare to this first time in the front row. I could see their smallest facial expressions and their fingers as they played their instruments. It was absolutely amazing: the best decision ever. I LOVE GOOD THEATRE.
The next day we woke up, got on the subway to go on the National Theatre tour.
and it was AMAZING. We got to stand on the Olivier stage – where AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING ACTORS HAVE STOOD including, of course, Benedict Cumberbatch when he did Frankenstein, a show that I saw in a movie theatre as part of National Theatre Live broadcasts. I couldn’t stop thinking that I was standing where so many actors and actresses have stood before me, looking out into the audience. Later we got to hold props from previous shows – INCLUDING BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH’S STICK. Because Kathleen and I are both preteen fangirls as well as immature full grown ladies we kept talking about how we would never forget “holding Benedict Cumberbatch’s stick, caressing it, whispering sweet nothings, and passing it around”. But actually, it made us both immeasurably happy.
We had planned to try and see Les Miz but when we called the box office they said they weren’t giving away ANY cheap day of tickets, they didn’t even have student prices so, since we were already at the National, we decided to buy tickets to the show playing that night – Emil and the Detectives – and then set off to explore South Bank.
The first thing we did was walk to Burough Market which was a crowded food market for lunch. I got a fresh sandwich and then we shared a ginormous chocolate chip cookie between the two of us which was divine.
Then we stopped in the Tate Modern. I felt a little bad because Kathleen is not a modern art fan, but I REALLY REALLY wanted to go in because I’ve been seeing so much Ancient art, which is beautiful don’t get me wrong, but I really wanted to mix things up and see something new and different. I wandered the museum alone while Kathleen got a coffee but I was absolutely mesmerized. There was Picasso and Rothko and a whole bunch of artists that I recognized or were completely new to me doing weird and interesting pieces of art. Some art, honestly, just looked like turds of poop BUT others were huge murals of splashed colors, or lights and sounds, or distorted human figures. I had a great time and took two cool selfies: in front of a Rothko Red and in front of Monet’s water lilies:
Then we kept walking along South Bank to the most touristy area of London – the London Eye, across the bridge to Big Ben and Westminster Cathedral. The walk took us through crowdsof people, by street musicians, human statues, break dancers, bubble blowers, and more. I then did crazy photo shoots in front of both the Eye
AND in front of Big Ben
We went on a walk all along South Bank and around the Cathedral and by the time we were done our feet were killing us so we headed back towards the theatre to have a dinner of a burger and chips….and a dessert of a nutella crepe…and then pre-show tea.
The show itself, while a great showcase of the amazing technological and artistic abilities of the National Theatre, was DEFINITELY a kids show and we kept making sarcastic remarks once we realized we were way too old for this kind of theatre. Either way, when we stopped taking it seriously there were many laughs to be had and while Once will go down as spectacular theatre and Emil will be largely forgotten, we still made it a good night and went for drinks after the show where I finally tried a Pimm’s cup which was absolutely divine.
Now I’m on a train on the way back to Glasgow. I’m looking out the window at the British landscape speeding past me as I write this. I have a big essay due tomorrow that I should be working on instead of blogging and I guess that’s the biggest struggle since coming here: it’s hard to forget this isn’t a gap semester. My classes are getting harder … and my adventures are getting bigger. I’m hoping to keep an okay balance but, honestly, I’m only hoping to pass my classes rather than ace everything. I’m too busy getting the most out ofthis experience to get the most out of my school work too. Don’t worry – I’m devoting the rest of this day to that blasted essay, but I’m so glad I put it off for a day or two to go do something incredible.