Monday, March 21, 2011

Aberdeen, Scotland...In a Series of Pictures and Narration

Magi and I leaving the dorm at 5:25 in the morning the catch the Grey Hound to London Victoria. 

From London Victoria we caught the Tube to Kings Cross where we got on an East Coast Train to Glasgow which called at Edinburgh (A very long train ride, here is me sleeping). We got off at Edinburgh, had lunch in the station and got on another train to Aberdeen. 

 When I wasn't sleeping the scenery was amazing. Sheep dotted fields with mountains in the background. And the ocean, the ocean  was especially beautiful. Jagged cliffs  falling into thrashing waves. Beautiful (->).
 The beginning of our second day in Aberdeen, we set off in search of Castle. Here's Magi and I at the bus stop (<-).

We were headed to Balmoral Castle, which is one of the Queen's private residents. The lady working the front desk of our hotel recommended it, and even printed off the information for us and told us where the catch the bus.

At the bus stop we met four Polish siblings who are headed to the same castle. We chatted with them on the two hour bus ride to the castle.  Along the way the scenery is spectacular. We were headed straight into the snow covered mountains:

 So, the bus dropped us and the four Polish siblings off in what felt like the middle-of-nowhere, Scotland. We walk down the drive to the castle and came to this shack that said it was visitors information. Its locked up tight. We walked up to the very impressive gate to the actual driveway of the castle. Its locked. We walk across the street to a church that's there and its locked. Here I am, thinking to myself, who locks a church! 
While we were trying to figure out was was going on, the eldest sibling pulled out her phone, which had internet, and discovered that the castle was closed in march!

So here we are, in the middle of nowhere. Its cold. There's snow on the ground, the temp is dropping and the closest town is a ten minute bus ride back down the mountain... But, we had two strikes of luck:
1.) I got this picture of beautiful river near the castle
2.) The bus that had just dropped us off, had made it to his destination and had turned around to come go back to Aberdeen!


A two hour bus ride later, and we were in the Aberdeen shopping center our hotel was in, getting our feet nibbled on by fish. Yes, I said, getting our feet nibbled on my fish. Just look at the picture ->
 Feeling frustrated about not being able to see a castle, and having a sneaking suspension that the lady at the bus station and the bus driver both knew the castle was closed in march and didn't tell us, we did what any 20-something girls would do. We got dressed up and went in search of a place to dance.  ...We found one. And we danced. 

 Day Three in Aberdeen, and the day we were leaving, we walked to the beach. We took our shoes off, and walked towards the water. Was it cold, you ask? Just take a look at my face in the picture (->). Direct Quote as the wave washed over my feet: "Shenanigans it cold!"

The beech at Aberdeen was beautiful. A nice sandy beach...even if the water was freezing.

 We did regular beach type things...

Like take a picture while jumping...
Writing in the sand....

I snapped these pics of Aberdeen from our hotel room window, what a view...

Well, that about it for this adventure. Easter break starts at the end of the week. I have four weeks off. Three of those weeks I'll be conquering the European continent...should be an adventure!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lost In Translation Moments

A few lost in translation moments for your enjoyment...

C: I'm going to get a jumper before we got out.
Me: A jumper? But its cold outside!
C: Exactly, that's why I'm going to get a jumper!
Me: Why do you want to get a dress when its cold? Wouldn't that make you Colder?
C: No, I'm going to get a...hoodie.
M: Oh.


A: And she's so g---ted.
Me: Are you saying gutted or guttered?
A: Gutted, like really upset.


A: My mum has 'Hey Soul Sister' as her ringtone so ever time it plays I think of her.
Me: The first time I heard it I was with a friend and she just looked at me and said 'cut a rug'?
K: Cut a Rug?
Me: Yeah, you know, "The way you can cut a rug, watching you the only drug I need, I'm so gangster, I'm so thug, your the only one I'm dreaming of."
A: Cut a Rug? What does that mean?
Me: It's an old 70s (?) saying that means to dance.
K: Oh, I thought it meant rug burns!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The New Forest

The New Forest is a National Park in the southern part of the UK. A little background information? William The Conqueror, after taking England named this area his 'new hunting ground' in 1079. Nearly 1,000 years later this 'Nova Foresta' still remains unchanged. My prof says it had the most ancient oaks per square mile than any other place in the UK.

So, I left my dorm at about 7:45am and didn't get back until about 5:30pm, so I spent a good part of my day in the Forest. We got off the train at the Brockenhurst station with a really bad map. After a cup of nice, hot coffee we set out to find the forest. So, one might think that since we're in the middle of the forest, it would not be hard to find, right? Nope, everywhere we walked, it all suburbs. And we're walking around thinking, how hard is it to find this thing, its huge! Finally, we stop and ask directions at the local Golf course, and you could so tell the guy wanted to laugh at us because Brockenhurst is in the middle of the New Forest, but we couldn't find it! He told us--with a straight face--to take the footpath through the golf course, but make sure to always look left when we crossed a hole just in case someone was doing their golf swing, and we could jump the fence at hole 13, and we'd be in the forest. Okay, so we make it through the golf course without getting knockout by a golfball, find hole 13 and, much to the on looking golfers dismay, hop the fence into the forest. Hallelujah we found it!  About 10 feet in, we run into bog. We walk left: bog. We walk right: bog. We realize the only way through the bog is well, through the bog. I roll up the hem of my jeans and say goodbye to my nice clean tennis shoes, and cross the bog. Low and behold, what do we see? This tree that looks like it has 'lighting-strike' branches!

Further in past the tree, we find these great trees that have fallen and their roots look really, really cool. 

I could see, if I was a little kid that lived in Brockenhurst, coming out to the New Forest, and making my fort in these roots. How awesome would that be? 

And then, we ran into more bog. I looked at my mud covered shoes, and the black bog water, and then back at my jeans. My shoes were already muddy, but I hoped I could save my jeans from being stained black, so I changed into the rain boots I packed, and just slogged through it. In the bog area, there are theses tufts of grass that grow that are slightly elevated . We were hopping from tuft to tuft trying to avoid the water when Anne took a miss step, one foot lands in the mud and next things we know, she's got one foot still on the tuft and the other is stuck up to the knee in mud. My first thought was: Oh, no, somehow in the middle of a UK forest, I have somehow stumbled into an Indiana Jones film! With a little help from Emma and I, we were able to get her out, and amazingly enough her shoe was still on her foot!

It was around noon by this point, so Emma, Anne and I found a fallen tree and had lunch.

Right near where we had lunch, there was this amazing tree, that had been cut off maybe 10 feet from the ground, so really it was nothing but an over glorified stump, but it was this really cool sort of gold color and had these vertical lines running all down it. I'd never seen this on a tree before. 

So, not every part of the New Forest is forest. It has these wide open fields. After lunch, we stumbled cross one of these and started hiking towards a ridge of hills. In class, we had studied the works of Richard Long, who's this insanely good environmental sculptor ( Inspired by his works, we decided to make a circle of our own for our class journals out of sticks. It started out pretty puny...

We decided it needed to build it up more. So we started gathering more sticks and piling them up. We were doing this, when Emma said from behind me, "We have company." ...I turned around expecting to see humans...oh no. No humans. Wild Horses. They started out just coming towards us very slowly...

Emma, Anne and I just stood there not knowing what to do. Okay, so I've grown up camping and hiking all up in the Appalachian/Smoky Mountains. Snakes: you make a lot of noise. Black bears: you make yourself real big and makes noise...unless you have food, in which case you just give them the food and leave. What are you suppose to do when confronted from Wild Horses? We just stood there, and they came so close to us. This next picture is without zoom....

Allow me to restate for emphasis: This pictures is taken without zoom. We finally  just decided maybe we needed to get out of their way. We we slowly walked away. The horses investigated out backpacks:

They investigated our circle too. The brown one even went and stood right in the middle of it but I wasn't quick enough with the camera to capture that moment. After investigating and looking at us for while, they moved on to the patches of bushes and bracken on the other side of the circle. They never got very far from us, but they started eating while they watched us, and we decided it was safe enough and went back to working on our circle. Here are a few pictures of our finished circle:

We left the circle where we built it. If anyone happens to stumble across it while in the New Forest, it was us! ...When we finished, we hiked to the top of the little spine of hills and decided it was time to find our way back to town. We looked around trying to get our bearings and well...follow the yellow brick road! 

We made it down to the yellow brick road, and followed it. Somehow, during our adventure in the New Forest, we ended up outside the Brockenhurst city limits and had to follow a major road all the way back in. At this point, I think all three of needed a drink, so we went to find a pub! We were walking in the Brockenhurst city centre and I did a double take because there was donkey walking down the middle of the road. I was thinking, Oh, my goodness, I am so dehydrated I am hallucinating a donkey in the middle of the road! Nope, it was really there and there were two of them, and I have the proof to prove it:

I swear, the baby one is so ugly its cute! But we found our pub...The Snakecatcher, and I ordered a nice, cold Strongbow. Strongbow is cider, so imagine my surprise when I'm halfway through it I'm feeling a little lightheaded! It's cider! ...oh, wait, I must be more dehydrated than I thought. I got some more fluids...non-alcoholic ones--in me and I was fine. So, yes mom and dad, I now know why I'm not suppose to drink while dehydrated. :)

Until next time,


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Pancake Day!!

Pancake Day is God's gift to man! You know how we have Mari Gras in the States? Well, here they have Pancake Day instead. It always falls on Shove Tuesday (The day before Lent begins) and everyone just devours pancakes. It's a really big deal here in England, I had 3 pancakes for dinner. The Pancakes here are more like Crepes but smaller. From what I gather its more traditional to eat them with Lemon juice and sugar but I ate mine with Raspberry Jam and cream. Amazing!

Happy Pancake Day,


Stonehenge and Bath

Well, the attempt to see Stonehenge on Friday was sort of a fail. Due to work on the Motorway (What I've heard referred to as the Inter-Shire) it took us almost twice as long to get there! We arrived at Stonehenge about fifteen minutes after it closed. But we still got some pretty good pictures! 

These are from right behind the fence, so we were still able to get pretty close it. 

Here's one of me from a little bit further away but a lower fence.
Our day in Bath was slightly less of a failure, in fact I would go as far call it a success! We left the group from Lander to check into their hotel and Magi and I went to go find out hostel. Distances on maps can be very deceiving...we thought we weren't going very far, but the hostel--which turned out to be very nice and very clean--was all the way up this huge hill! It took us 30/45 minutes to walk there. But it only took us about 15 minutes to walk back down the hill and meet up with part of the group from Lander. 

Let me tell you, the restaurants in Bath are cleverly hidden... It took us maybe 45 minutes to find a restaurant (because the pubs were no longer serving food). We hiked all over the city centre and finally settled on Thai Food, which was really good. Afterwards we went to pub and enjoyed some BlackThorn Cider.

Saturday morning we toured the Roman Baths. There's a museum attached that shows what the baths would have looked like back in the day, and I had no idea! The Bath bath complex was absolutely huge. There's this one spot where you can reach down and touch the water, and I did, it was so warm. It felt like a nice hot...bath. Here are some pictures of the Roman Baths: 

The town of Bath was beautiful. Lots of old buildings and 'clean-lines'. I would try and describe it further but I think the pictures, in this case, would do a much better job. 

This is a beautiful bridge right smack in the middle of town
The Royal Crescent. This is the building that is always pictures when talking about Bath.

Bath Abby.

I can't believe I've been in the UK for over a month. It doesn't feel like it at all. 
Well, more posts to come as the adventure continues,