Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gaudi is a Friend of Mine

Hello all,

Wow, I can't believe how long it's been since I've done this!
I know I'm bad but in my defense I have been very busy with school and exploring the EU.
As some of you may know I was lucky enough to get a visit from my sister Patti and her friend Liza while I was at school. They gave me the chance to visit Barcelona and Paris on more than a student budget which was very nice lol. Didn't even have to starve myself! Haha j/k...kinda.
They showed up on my doorstep on October 11th and I walked them through Canterbury which let me tell you is a picturesque little English town. It also happened to be my roommates birthday so we ate at a restaurant in town called 'Little Italy' where I got gnocchi that was to die for. We tucked in early as we were expected at London Luton at 9am. London Luton by the way, is the most awful airport in the world. It is seriously so hard to get too and i'm sure only put there to deter people from traveling. Thankfully after 4 hours on 2 different buses (Our bus ride was longer then our flight!), a hellish security check line, and 5 minute marathon we arrived at our gate just in time for our flight to Barcelona. Once we arrived in the beautiful Spanish city, we immediately stripped down and stepped into some shorts (I hadn't seen my legs in months!). We settled into our very nice hotel and then headed out for some dinner by 'La Sagrada Familia'. For those of your who don't know what that is, it's one of Gaudi's projects and the last before his death. Unfortunately he was unable to finish it but they are continuing to build it with an expected finishing date of 2026! To the left is a picture of it in the daytime since I was closer then. After a dinner of sangria and paella we headed home to rest up for our BICYCLE WINE TOUR!
We started our wine tour in Villafranca where we met up with our tour guides and fellow American tourists. We biked to two different wineries where we enjoyed Cava's, Roses, etc. It also included an amazing lunch at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere where they served us the biggest dish of paella I have ever seen (look left). The next day we toured the rest of Barcelona with an emphasis on anything Gaudi inclusing the Sagrada Familia in the day, Park Guell (where we had more Sangria, and I got pooped on by a bird), and the Gaudi house. After some shopping we went home, got ready, and headed out to the party zone of Barcelona. Fortunately, some seedy looking guy got us in to 'Catwalk' for free and I took a picture on the runway.
As you can see i'm dressed quite well. The drinks were a bit on the expensive side but since Patti was buying we later had Doner Kebab and then got ready for PARIS!
I think I should end it now so I can start working on my homework. Boo homework, but at the end of the day I am at school =/.
I promise to post soon and inform everyone about the best city ever after London and LA, Paris!

Love from Canterbury,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Happy Birthday!

Hello All!
Or should i say cheers which here means: hello, goodbye, thank you, your welcome, yes, no, maybe, please, shit, red, tomato. Well not really all of that but honestly the British use cheers as a response to everything.

Me: Hello
Them: Cheers

Me: Thanks
Then: Cheers

Me: Let's Drink
Them: Cheers

Me: You're cool
Them: Cheers

Anyway I think you guys get the point lol. Furthermore as you know it was my birthday on the 29th of last month so I've been dying to tell everyone about it. However I'll start with some of the things that happened before the greatest day in American history. Firstly, the International Welcome Dinner which was put on by the school! I was so surprised by the sheer amount of activities that the schools put on for the students. Here i was thinking that this dinner would be lame but when we actually got there we were all impressed! There was wine on the table, candles, glass cups (very surprised about that), and a live magician going around to entertain us all. To the left is a picture of the table setting, btw it's a totally American phenomena to take pictures of your food. All the English/European people sitting around us thought it was very odd that we were taking pictures of our tomato and mozzarella salads lol. After our lovely dinner, we were escorted to a campus club called The Attic for the International night. Unfortunately the DJ was awful and actually did not know who Lil Wayne was but it was still fun to dance around to what the British call music. It was particularly amusing to comment on the total lack of dancing ability that the British exude. Seriously, I was an amazing dancer compared to everyone else, made me feel pretty good about my "getting low" abilities. On the way out of the club, fellow Californians and I stopped to take pictures with this crazy looking chihuahua! I thought you all would enjoy seeing a picture of it also.

 The school also organized a trip for us internationals to Leeds castle, they even paid for our transportation and tickets! I could never see UCSB doing that but then again we probably have like 10x the amount of International students. Anyway, it was my first castle and it was very cool. It was exactly what you would imagine it to be, with ducks and swans and peacocks and a moat! It had a moat! We were able to explore inside the castle and after countless photos we ate lunch outside on the lawns looking towards the "Fortress". I included the panoramic shot my roommate Josephine took. After lunch, we braved the maze located near the castle's aviary and after a few dead-ends we made it to the center of the maze. From there you could basically yell directions to whoever you wanted, not sure if everyone was telling them the right things poor people. Then to exit we walked into an underground grotto which they made very disneyland-isque and included creepy British voice overs about mermaids and ghosts. All in all it was a great day. Not quite as great as last Thursday, my Birthday!
I'm lucky enough to have great roommates and friends abroad (in case anyone is worried) and I was called down, mid-getting ready for the birthday club, so that my neighbors and roommates could sing me happy birthday and present to me flowers, a cake, cupcakes, a banner, balloons and a hello kitty birthday badge! To the left is a picture of some of the things I mentioned and my roommate Joren (he's Belgian) screaming at my birthday cakes. Then my fellow Californians and I went to Picturehouse, a restaurant in Canterbury, where we had a very nice Canadian waiter and ate semi-American food. Following our dinner and adventure to find Chemistry Club, the club i chose to celebrate at, we met up with the roomies and neighbs for some dancing and drinking. To the left is a picture of me drinking a "Snakebite" which is cider, beer, ribena (black current syrup), and something else. As you can see my face has been painted, which they like to do here and i'm sporting headband breads which i did with my own hair! (I was very proud that i could get it to wrap around so far). Eventually, we headed home in a cab. Luckily, i was pre-warned by Matt and Laura that the cabbies could be mean and take you a long way to make you pay more, so i decided i would be nice so that he would also be nice! And he was! When we finally got home he took 2 pounds off our bill since it was my birthday =]. Definitely one of the best days I've had in England thus far, Yay for Birthdays! Once we were all safely home, we had birthday bedtime tea and then it was off to bed. So sad it's not my birthday anymore =[ but i hope everyone is looking forward to a Vegas trip when I get back! =]

Love from Canterbury,

People from left to right:
Top row: Random guy that's always at our neighbors, Toni (my Barcelona roommate!), Rosa (Californian), Jenny (roommate from China, she lives in a province known for Pandas!), Jennifer (best friend and Belgian of Joren), Joren (roommate from Belgium).
Bottom row: Most beautiful girl in the world, Josephine (Roommate from California, we're the same person!), Cathy (Californian), and Aurora (Californian).