Monday, September 12, 2005

So maybe my vacation from this site lasted a few years. But I'm back...better late than never! Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 09, 2004

I have now made all previous blogs available so you can follow the journey from beginning to end. :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

I'm home. Well, my home away from home at least. On Sunday I went on a wonderful tour of the Highlands. I got to pet Hamish, the hairy Highland cow. Actually I should say "coo." The day was filled with incredible scenery. We drove by Stirling Castle and the Wallace monument and passed the castle where Mary Queen of Scots was born. We just went up and up. We stopped at Glencoe, where the McDonalds were massacred by the Campbells. It was beautiful. We went up to Loch Ness and guess what I saw? A swan. Anyhoo, our final stop was in a wooded area with a nice little waterfall. The other people were exhausted and cold so a few just stayed in the minibus. But I ran up a trail as far as I could go so I can now say that I have run through the woods of Scotland. I bet everyone just thought I was running off into the woods to pee. We ended the night in the most incredible pub. When I think of a pub I think of a scene with a wooden floor, a fireplace, musical instruments hung up on the wall so the locals can play when they feel like it, and an old dog in the corner. Well, this was the place.

I spent all of Monday running around the Royal Mile and Princes Street to finish off my souvenir hunt. I left at 3:30pm for Reading. The train ride was 7 hrs long. It was sooooooooo boring! I got in at 11pm. But now I'm back and just finished all my work due for my classes. I'll be home soon and can't wait! It's been a wonderful trip and my little skip over to Scotland was a wonderful way to end it!

Thanks, everyone for keeping up with this site. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed ranting and raving. My plane is scheduled to arrive in Little Rock at 10pm on Saturday. I think I'll have myself a huge monster burger from Hardy's when I get there. I'm going to get my film developed as soon as possible so I can back up everything I've been talking about!!

Upon leaving the Highlands I glanced out the minibus window and saw a sign reading "Return Ye Back." That is something I would definitely like to do. Maybe next time a few of you can come along with me.

So, with the sad thought of leaving behind a wonderful time of self discovery and travel I look with a nostalgic sigh across the ocean and daydream of family, friends, and home. I'll see you soon!

This marks the end of "The Adventures of Eurojess"...........well, at least for this year.

Au revoir, caio, yasu, cheerio.....c-ya! America and the land of monster Hardy's burgers here I come.

The End.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Hey, everyone. Just wanted to let you know that I finally made it to Edinburgh. I arrived Friday around 4pm. The train ride from Reading was about 7 hours. That's a lot of train. The wonderful thing about coming to Edinburgh this time of year is all the christmas lights hanging around! There is a festival here right now that even has an ice skating rink. Since it was dark when I arrived, I just walked around for a while looking at the christmas lights and listening to the cool accents! I stayed the night in St. Christopher's Inn (a hostel) and met a very nice French girl named Julianne (I think the spelling is correct.) We went to a neato pub and just watched the people. This morning we hiked up a mountain that's in the middle of the city. It's called Hollyrood Park. I really felt like Mel Gibson running along the edge of a cliff in the highlands. Except I wasn't wearing a kilt, am not a man, can't carry a sword, and wasn't in the Highlands. Around 6pm I met up with Chris (my 2nd cousin) and we went to eat at a Mexican restaurant with his French girlfriend. They are both very friendly. At the moment I am sitting in his flat surrounded by post grad computer people that are cooking pumpkin pie, cookies, mulling wine (some German thing?.) I'm spending the night over here tonight. Very excited about a free place to stay! Chris and I have been catching up since the last time we met was when he was 11 and I was 8 or something.

Tomorrow is going to be very exciting. I booked myself a spot on a coach tour of the highlands. We're going to Stirling Castle, Glencoe, some other places, and Loch Ness. I'm soooo excited to see parts of Scotland I've always wanted to see! I go back to Reading on Monday afternoon and fly home on Saturday.

I'll let ya know how my highlands adventure goes!!!


Saturday, November 29, 2003

Thanksgiving was nice. The closest we could get to turkey was bar-b-que chicken. I carved the chicken which was more like pulling off little pieces with a butter knife all the while eating a piece for every two I put on the plate. They just didn't know better when they put me in charge of that task! My first batch of cheese sauce ended up as a blob of flour, so I had to start over. The broccoli and cheese sauce was a big hit. The person who ate the most was a British girl! All the while we were cooking, British guys kept coming in trying to strike up conversation so we would find it in our hearts to invite them to our feast. I guess the Pilgrims were a little friendlier than the present generation of Americans because we weren't about to let some Brits eat our Thanksgiving dinner. We also had instant mashed potatoes, gravy, and some pitiful stuffing. I think it would have worked better had we actually cooked it in the oven for 20 minutes instead of putting it in the microwave for a little while. It really did have the consistency of rubber. We finished off the meal with a cheesecake.

Last night was Founders Dinner. We all dressed up and tried to act dignified. With our invitations we received a list of instructions including the following actions in which we were not allowed to take part: there had to be no flicking of candle wax, no drinking games, and most importantly no lifting of the kilts to reveal what was underneath. Very dignified, I should say. We ate lamb with juniper sauce, mint potatoes, green beans, cream of broccoli soup and crusted roll. At the end of the feast everyone raised there glasses in a toast to the Queen. I toasted George W.

Afterwards, everyone went to the Baa (the bar in the bowels of the hall.) I spent the night hiding from a British guy that looks exactly like Doogie Howser. We also had a disco (which is actually just loud American music played in a room full of flashing lights.) I feel so sorry for British people. They really can't dance. Especially doogie howser look-alikes. oh well.

13 days and counting :) 6 days until scotland

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving. On this day of thanks I would like to say "thank you, Lord" for my sister. Bless her heart. Always giving to the less unfortunate, she would take the shirt right off her back if it was needed. And if only she had a little extra money so that she could buy a new shirt for herself to wear the world would be such a better place in which to live. If only someone would send money to 410 Ouachita Street OBU Box 3619, Arkadelphia, AR 71998-0001 perhaps she would have a chance to think of herself for once and have a Merry Christmas.

(This ad was sponsored by Melanie B. DeBusk)

Happy Thanksgiving! I have to go now and prepare some broccoli and cheese sauce with my mother's secret recipe so I can impress all the other Americans.


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Rain. Rain. Rain. and cold rain. The weather just makes me want to mope around everywhere. I went into London on Saturday. It rained the whole time. It's hard enough to walk along the crowded street, but there is more of a challenge when everyone is carrying an umbrella and playing hopscotch over the puddles. Since we wanted to get out of the rain we went into free museums. First was the Museum of Natural History. The dinosaurs were okay. Did you know there is a certain kind that is found mainly in Utah? Maybe that's where the mormons come from...

We walked through the human biology section and got lost in the hormone section. Lindsay got stuck somewhere in human memory, and the rest of us decided we would be better in Charles Darwin. The non-science people got sick from the juicy, jarred specimens , so we left pretty soon.

The next stop was Tate Britain. I used to like art. After my Art History class, however, I've gotten fed up with a lot of it. For some strange reason, I think it's supposed to work the opposite way. I'm boycotting my Art History class at the moment in order to prove that it doesn't matter one way or the other if a dead guy painted Mary the same size as the patron saint, or if the fruit is dead, or if the rock looks realistic or more like paper mache. I'm sure my time could be better spent watching Death to Smoochie.

I didn't get to go to Stonehenge on Saturday because British people and Japanese exchange students are spawns of Satan. Sorry, I'm just a little upset about not getting to stand in the rain and look at old rocks. It didn't even matter that those exchange students didn't have reservations for the bus. Nooo, they just hopped on with their camcorders and took my seat. But hey, I thought I'd be polite and wait my turn. I did wait until the British guy who undoubtedly had rotting teeth smiled and told me and my polite friend to leave and get out of the way. If you can't tell by now, I'm starting to get slightly annoyed with this place. I mean, they all think Britain is soo grande when they can't even make their own movies, music, food or good tv. I just need to come home and have a good sonic milkshake or something.

Back to London: I wandered through the Tate and got utterly bored, which I do think is sad in itself. Next we went to Harrod's. Can you believe some people actually spend £60 (roughly >$100) on an umbrella? It was ridiculous. After that we went home and ate at Pizza Hut...see, another restaurant idea the British had to steal from America.

Since then it's been raining. I've been writing a paper and dreaming about going to Scotland. I think I'll go into debt but I've gotta go somewhere other than England. Maybe I'll like the Scots. not that I dislike ALL British people...just a lot of them at the moment.

but there is one thing I will always thank Britain for: Cadbury chocolate spread.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Hello. I don't have any travel stories to tell. I'm taking a break after my last fiasco. I suppose I could just give a description of the day-to-day activities in a British town.

I hardly ever wake up in time for breakfast at 8:30. Since I never have class, I've gotten quite lazy. Rolling out of bed around 10 or so, I usually fiddle in my room until noon. The line gets really long at 12:30 because everyone only has one hour to eat. Us rude Americans always break line if we see another yankee up in front, so the wait isn't too bad. We've learned it's always wise to be in line beside a guy, any guy, because the lunch ladies try to impress them and are friendlier to a girl standing beside a guy. The food is alright. I do think, however, that if some type of potato shortage occurs the whole of Reading University will starve. All we eat is potatoes. Fried potatoes. Baked potatoes. Boiled potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Refried potatoes. yada yada. They have now started putting labelled pieces of paper in front of the meat to make it more identifieable. I once asked a lunchlady if I could have the chicken. She gave me a strange look and said, "You mean the tuna fish casserole?"

After lunch I usually work a bit on an essay. I've finished one and have three to go. I'm going to have one test (it's actually more like a quiz) for my Human Disease course, so I figure I will study for one day this entire semester. Oh, it's great. Some days, however, I don't feel like working on an essay. Then I'll just read a book or watch a movie with someone that has a laptop with DVD. Now that I think about it, I really don't know what I do all day. I guess I just kill time in between meals...the social events of each day.

After dinner I either head into town for one reason or another or go to the Baa with my fellow Americans. There's really nothing else to do unless you want to spend money on a train ride somewhere. What a tough life I live.

I've found out that over here people start partying (well, they drink...that's all they do) early (around 7pm) and don't stay up past 1:30am. It's a bit odd considering that in the US things don't start to happen until around midnight.

Every night I drift off to bed listening to Christmas music and thinking about the relaxed day I will have the following day.

I might try to go to Edinburgh around Thanksgiving. I guess that's the final adventure I'll have...but maybe something will come up! :)

Hope you've enjoyed seeing that I'm doing pretty much nothing over here and loving it!

bye for now!


Friday, October 31, 2003

Happy Halloween! I hope that your day has gone better than mine. I've decided that every great adventure has at least one day that will forever live in infamy. I just experienced mine. And trust me, it definitely ranks up there with the most horrible days of my life (not that I've had too many.)

The plan this weekend was to go to Scotland and stay with the second-cousin whom I haven't seen since I was like 10 or something, Chris Callison-Burch. I left Thursday night and got on a train to Birmingham at 9pm. I spent all night in the train station because the train to Edinburgh didn't leave until 6am the next morning...don't ever buy the cheapest ticket because there is always some catch like having to spend all night on the cold floor of a train station. Anyway, all of this was expected and I was planning for a long night. However, when I got on the train at Reading I started feeling a little funny. I tried to just ignore it and hoped it would go away. It didn't. On the train I began getting chills and my throat started closing up. I put on my new Frank Sinatra Christmas cd and tried to think happy thoughts for 2 1/2 hours. Once in Birmingham things took a turn for the worse. I started shaking uncontrollably and was so sick to my stomach that I was afraid to move for fear I would vomit. I laid in the train station floor (it was freezing, which really helped my cold chills) all night and just cried with my head under my blanket. It was great. The next morning around 5am I bought a ticket for the next train to Reading. I just scrapped my roundtrip ticket to Edinburgh because I knew I would never make it that far. Boy, was I right. I spent most of the train ride back to Reading on my hands and knees in the handicap bathroom in the train. I walked like a zombie to the bus and somehow got in my dorm room around 8 am. I've been in bed ever since...just now got to where I can walk out of my room to the computer room. I couldn't even get out to ask some friends for medicine. Yes, probably one of the worst days (or two days) of my life.

But now for the happy side of the story (yes, there is one!)

I met a guy from Nigeria named Sukki when I got to the train station. He asked if I was a christian and said that he was. He prayed over me and stayed by my side all night. He even took a later train into London just to make sure I got on mine. I don't really understand why God allowed me to get so sick on what should have been such an exciting adventure, but I do know he placed Sukki in my path to take care of me. I can't imagine what I would have done had I been so sick and alone. No maintenance men or homeless people approached me because I was with a guy. He was definitely God-sent protection. I felt like a dead armadillo but I knew I'd be okay because I had a new friend to help me out. He was a miracle.

Ok. Now I'm going to crawl back into my room and try to sleep off what is going on in my body. The chills have stopped, and I don't think I'm going to throw up at the moment. Surely it can only get better from here.

Happy Halloween.


Monday, October 20, 2003

Hiyo! That's my new British word. Today is my 22nd birthday. Geez, it's tough getting old. Everyone here keeps making jokes about how many candles they're gonna have to buy to stick in the banana. (It has to be a banana because there aren't many chocolate cakes floating around.)

Last night I returned from a wonderful trip to Wales. I and two other girls (Jessica from Washington state and Lindsay from California) left Friday morning and took the 2 1/2 hour train ride. We got off in Swansea. The town was not all that great, but the coast was amazing. We were informed that the cheapest places to stay were right on the coast. That seemed a little backwards to me. The coast was lined with bed and breakfasts, so we split up in order to go door to door and save time. The cheapest one was £14 per person. We got our key and climbed up 47 stairs to our room which was actually the attic. Three beds stuffed into an attic isn't all that great, but then I opened the curtains. The view was incredible. You'll just have to see my pictures.

That night we walked along the shore and collected sea shells. I had to chase a few seagulls. Apparently, I was the comic relief for the trip. The next day we ate our full English breakfast (I don't know why they have to include baked beans, yeghck) and hopped on a bus. Miraculously, we ended up in the most beautiful place in Wales, Rhossili. Hills, coast, cliffs, sheep, cows, horses, quaint little village with fish & chip restaurant. It was gorgeous. We ate lunch and just walked around for a while. All the bed & breakfasts were booked up, so we just enjoyed the scenery for a few hours before the bus returned. I, naturally, had to chase a few sheep. Almost caught one, too.

We got on the bus and ended up in the cute little village called Oxwich Green. We found a REAL bed & was wonderful. The beds were so comfortable and the food was delicious. All 3 of us were impressed with ourselves and our luck. That night we walked along the coast and collected more sea shells. I chased some sea gulls again. The next day we decided to walk along the road, assured we would reach a town eventually. We came upon a field with some ponies. I was just getting acquainted with a cute white pony when a nice car pulled up beside us and offered a ride. It was a couple that had also stayed at the b&b. I really wanted to pet the ponies some more, but we couldn't refuse such a good offer- my first hitchhiking adventure. They dropped us off in another cute little town. We walked down a road through the woods and ended up at another b&b that offered horseback riding. We were too late to go that day, so we just decided to catch the bus to Oystermouth Bay. I might go back to that b&b someday. It was amazing.

We got to Oystermouth and shopped a little. I ate some real fish & chips (just for you, bryan) and fed most of the cod to a persistent pigeon. I'm sure it would have been great had I liked fish. Later, we went back to the train station and arrived in Reading aroun 7:30 pm.

I watched part of a movie with some other friends who had just returned from Venice (apparently, my Venice trip was much more enjoyable) and woke up this morning to some birthday decorations made from newspaper hanging outside my bedroom door. We may go to a pub to celebrate tonight. Guess I'll just have to see.

Oh, here is one fun story about Wales. About 5 am Lindsay woke up to see a strange man just standing in our room. She yelled and woke up the rest of us. We're hoping that he was just drunk and lost, but it's just not a good feeling when you wake up and you don't know how long a strange, French guy has been standing above you. None of our stuff had been stolen. He just mumbled something in French and said we should lock our doors. He didn't seem like one to be giving out advice. Anyhoo.

Happy birthday to me! bye for now!


Sunday, October 12, 2003

Yesterday I headed into London in hopes of spending Sat, Sun, & Mon in the city. I rode on the train with two American girls, Lindsey and Jessica, also staying in my hall. The ride took about 20 minutes. I left them when we got to the train station in order to go looking for a hostel. Well, leave it up to me to pick the weekend when there is a BIG football (soccer) game in London and all the hostels are booked. Instead of staying overnight, I just hopped on the train around midnight...luckily, I hadn't packed very much stuff for the weekend.

After leaving the station, I went to Westminster Abbey. When I got off the metro I began walking toward a bridge with a nice view of the London Eye (giant ferris wheel.) I stopped for a moment and looked up to my right. I almost jumped because I hadn't realized this huge clock tower was towering right over my head. Hello, Big Ben. It was eleven o'clock and I listened to the clock chime its heart out. I walked past the Houses of Parliament and into the abbey. It's quite neato. I saw the tombs of people like Queen Elizabeth 1st and Geoffrey Chaucer and T.S. Eliot. Next, I went to Buckingham Palace. I ate lunch in a beautiful park just in front of the palace. I didn't go into the palace...just looked at it. Then I went in search of another hostel. They were booked but happened to be in the same neighborhood as the British Museum. I went into the museum and was overwhelmed. I went out one door so I could go around to the bottom floor and got lost. I don't know how I got lost...the building was huge. But I never found it again. I then got very angry with the British Museum so I gave up and went to the National Gallery. I stayed in there for around an hour and then decided to trot over to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in hopes of catching a performance. I got there around 6:30pm. "Twelfth Night" started at 7pm. I had to wait outside with all the other people who didn't get there in time to get tickets. Luckily, I got a standing ticket for £5. It was incredible. I stood at the feet of the actors...they very well may have spit on me. I bought a cup full of chocolate covered nuts and berries and really enjoyed the night. The play was over at 10:15pm and I followed people that looked as if they were going to the tube. Luckily, they were. I got back on the train, met a very nice girl whose parents live in Germany but whose mother is Scottish. She also goes to Reading Uni. She told me the correct bus to get on once we got into Reading. On the bus I met an American (they're everywhere) who is a christian and told me what time the christian union meets.

Although I didn't get to stay overnight, it was a wonderful day full of even more unforgettable experiences.

Now, for the first time since I left Rome, I am doing LAUNDRY!! whooo-hooo.
I am gonna be smellin' good. finally.


Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I've been instructed to keep up more with my blogging, so here goes! I had to walk through hail and rain to get to the library. It was sunny when I left the dorm. By the time I was halfway into campus it started hailing and raining. Now it's sunny again. I guess that when I head to class it will start hailing some more. :)

This week has been a blur. There is a ridiculous amount of Americans here. Now I'm just trying to meet British people. Everyone is quite nice except for the lunchlady nazis. You might think I'm joking...I'm very serious. For no apparent reason one of the nazis grabbed my plate, put it back on the shelf, and would not serve me for a few minutes. I was quite dumbfounded by the outward show of aggression. My cleaning lady is very friendly though.

Saturday I went into London and discovered that I will never be able to travel with other people ever again. It was awful. Actually, I think I just happened to be there with one of those Americans that gives us all a bad name. The trip wasn't awful...she was awful. I did manage to go to the top of St. Paul's. I have to say that I liked St. Peter's in Rome a little more. I also visited the National Gallery. It's really amazing to walk into a room and suddenly see the original Van Gohes (did I spell that right) and Monets right in front of you. I also went to the London Bridge, saw that the Tower Bridge was cooler, and went there. David Blane was hanging in a box at the Tower Bridge with a huge group of people under him. He waved a few times. Very exciting. We wandered into Picadilly Circus and made the mistake of going into Soho. So is prostitution legal here or something cause....well, it was an experience.
We wanted to eat in an English pub so we searched all over. It started raining and we were starving so we ended up at a pub whose theme was boxing and its specialty was Thai food. Bet there aren't too many of those around!

Sunday I went to Oxford. It's a nice little town. All the students were moving in and I'm hoping I was mistaken for one. On this trip I went with nice was much better. We happened upon Christchurch (the place where some of Harry Potter was filmed.) We walked up the staircase and into the Great Hall. Very neato.

I'm not sure what I'll do this weekend. Everyone is getting sick...why do people choose to live here? I have my first class at 4pm (Art History.) My other two classes are on Thursday (Intro. to Human Disease and Cell Biology.) It's nice to have class only 2 days each week-and tuesday doesn't really count since the class is only from 4-5pm.

I've decided to join the sailing club and mountaineering club. This place really is great.

I'll send some more information when I get it.

finally in the UK,

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Well, I finally made it. I'm at Hogwarts. Now all I need is a cool scarf. Actually, I did buy a scarf's pretty cold here. Wow, so much to catch you up on!

I got to swim in the Aegean Sea. It was cold and salty...and all the beaches were topless. That was quite a surprise. I went to the cave on Antiparos, and apparently Europeans don't know what a cave is supposed to look like. It was the ugliest little cave I've ever seen. The only interesting thing was the Greek graffiti on the walls. But the bus drive there was nice. I had an authentic island meal the first evening on the island: swordfish, calamari, and shrimp (with heads attached.) It was a nice island, but I only stayed one night because I was trying to get away from Cyrus. I had really gotten used to traveling alone and someone following me around just started to bother me. So the second night I hopped on a ferry back to Athens.

I spent the night in Athens in the same hostel. The next morning I took a day trip to Delphi. It was really beautiful up there. Very mountainous, and the see was visible. I went shopping in a cute little town near the ruins. While I waited for the 3 hour bus ride to Delphi I met a wonderul little old Greek man who had been a captain in the merchant marine for 25 years. We had a nice conversation, and he told me all about his grandchildren and how he had traveled with his wife before her death. He was so sweet; I just wanted to hug him! I slept on the bus ride to Delphi and most of the way back.

I spent the night again in Hotel Zorbas. The next morning I went to the train station (which was quite frustrating to find) and went to Patros. I met a girl who was also traveling alone...we became ferry buddies. I slept on the train ride to Patros and most of the ferry ride into Bari, Italy. It was nice to have another friend, though, so we could watch each other's stuff and have conversation.

A quite exciting experience occurred when I got to the Bari train station. I had originally intended to spend the day in Bari and take a night train to Venice. However, when I got to the station the ticket guy said a train was leaving at 9:02 was 8:59am at the time. I made a split decision and raced to the train. Of course, I went to the wrong track. God guided me once again because immediately an elderly man came up to me and ran a ways with me to show me where to go. I don't know where these people come from...they just appear and help me find my way. Another incredible thing was that the train was a few minutes late. In all of my traveling, none of the train have been late. They always arrived and departed on time. It's interesting that the only train that was late was the one I would have missed had it been on time. Seems a little fishy to me ;)

So I got to Venice that afternoon. I decided to stay in the hotel I had booked for the following day...I just hoped they would have availability. I got to stay in a room with 3 beds. I was happy because I had the entire room to myself! It was even better than the private room I had the next night.

After putting up my luggage in the big room, I headed into town. I really didn't see any canals or gondolas so I was quite disappointed. It didn't look like any of the postcards I'd seen. The next day I headed back into that part of town, got completely lost, & wound up in some great, huge flea market. I think it was bigger than the one in Athens. It was great...and it only took me an hour and a half to realize i wasn't in Venice. Geeze. Apparently, I had come in to the train station that was separated from Venice by a large body of water. How was I supposed to know? hehe So I got directions and took a bus over the bridge and into Venice itself. I was great...plenty of canals and tourists. I really enjoyed it. I went to St. Mark's cathedral. I've never been surrounded by so much gold and precious stones in my life. It was quite breathtaking. I wanted around the city until late afternoon and then went back to the hotel.
The next morning I took the train all the way through the Swiss Alps into Geneva. It was a gorgeous ride...I didn't sleep at all. I just squished my face against the window for several hours. I got to Geneva airport that afternoon and took the free shuttle to my wonderful four star hotel. I think the only places to stay in Geneva are in four star hotels. But it was great. I put up my things and took a bus into the city center. Geneva is okay. The background of the alps was nice, but the people were the weirdest I've seen yet. I bought some great chocolate and a few souvenirs. I also ate McDonald's for supper. Did you know they also have KFC all over Europe? Anyway, I went back to the hotel, ate the free chocolate they put on the pillows, made some free coffee (I don't like it until it's free), used as much of the free shampoo and soap as I could when taking a shower, and went to bed. It was a great way to end the trip. The bed was so had a down comforter. And no mosquitos.

I got up around 5am the next morning and took the shuttle to the airport. The flight to London Luton was about one hour. After getting to the airport in England I took a shuttle to the train station. Then I took the train to some stop and got on the tube. The tube took me to Paddington station. Here I got on another train into Reading. Once in Reading I met another American coming to the university (Rachel) who was also lost at the bus station. We finally got on the right bus and got to Wantage Hall...after I took a wrong turn at the bus stop and made the poor girl drag her luggage a little farther than was necessary. That's why I should travel I don't get other people lost all the time. We registered and ate lunch in the Harry Potter dining room.

Well, I have to go on a tour of the campus now so I'll continue the story next time! Oh, and just so you hasn't rained out one day this entire trip. The weather has been wonderful!

love you,

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Hi! Well, at the moment I'm on the cute little island of Paros somewhere on the Aegean Sea. It was a 4 hour ferry ride from Pireaus (the port close to Athens)

I'll go into a little more detail on Rome now that I have more time.

I rode the train from Florence to was just fine. The guy I sat beside snored the entire time. Once in Rome I searched for my hostel (Hotel Alessandro Downtown.) The directions were wonderful and I found it without any trouble. A really cute Australian guy worked at reception....I think I'm gonna have to visit Australia some day ;)
Immediately when I got to the hostel I put up my things and headed out on the town. My first stop was the Colosseum. I hopped off the metro and it was right in front of me. Huge. I went in and lingered around English speaking tour guides...hey, I'm on a budget! After the Colosseum I wandered in the Palatino...the palace of some of the emporers. I didn't have a guide so I wasn't too sure exactly what it was. It was huge though. After that I wandered some more...I went in search of the Pantheon. As I mentioned earlier I met an archaeologist and had a great private tour of a nearby church. The guy's name was Claudio. After this visit I headed back to the metro. On the way a guy asked for directions to the colosseum (which was in my direction.) Proud to be the one not lost, I told him to follow me. It turned out he was from Florence and was in Rome doing research on the human growth factor. I knew he was for real because he went into great detail during his explanation of the research. Overall he was pretty cute. However, his top row of teeth was all fake. Poor guy. Anyway, we had a great conversation and he invited me to ride with him that night on his cousin's vespa (motorbike.) I used my instincts and agreed. He seemed very nice. We agreed to meet at 9:15pm.

When I got back to the hostel (around 8pm) I discovered it was free spaghetti dinner night at a nearby restaurant. I met tons of great people staying in the hostel and went to the free dinner. It wasn't served until after 9, so I had to follow my heart and choose free food over a nice smart guy with fake teeth. Oh well, maybe it was for the best. After we ate, about 7 of us girls decided to go to the Trevi fountain. It was beautiful at night. Afterwards we went to the Hard Rock Cafe. It was a great night out.

The following day I went in search of a museum. I found the Capitoline Museum...pretty interesting. Then I wandered into the Roman forum....fascinating. So many ruins! Unfortunately, I was exhausted by this point because earlier that day I had gotten lost. I got lost after wandering down the Tiber. I went in search of the Roman forum and wound up at a great market (unknown to tourists), the circus maxim (first chariot races & games held here), and eventually the Mouth of Truth...along with some other temples. After discovering the Roman forum and not exploring it near enough, I headed back to the hostel. That night I went to the Spanish steps with two girls from Seattle. It was basically just a bunch of people drinking. So we didnt' stay too long and ended up at some concert by the train station. It was Ska music, so I left pretty soon and collapsed in bed.

The next day I headed to the catacombs. I had little trouble getting on the correct bus. It was a bit spooky...a group of catholic tourists were having mass in one of the tombs. Disturbed me a bit. I got back to the hostel around noon and met some wonderful girls from Norway and Sweden. One of the girls knew an Italina guy so that night we all went out and had a wonderful, real Italian meal. Minardo, Luca, and Andre were very entertaining. It made me realize that not all Italian men fit the stereotype of touchy/feely. They were genuinly friendly. Minardo told us great things to order. I had real Italian ravioli. I also discovered I like white wine better than red....a very cultural experience.

Here is my motto for Rome: I am usually lost but I am always somewhere.

The next morning I hopped on a train to Bari, Italy. It was a great ride...very scenic. After getting off the train, I immediately met a Canadian couple (very friendly) who were also going to the port for a ride to Patras, Greece. We hopped on a bus and met a guy, Cyrus, from Illinois headed in the same direction. Later I met a couple from Switzerland headed to the port. It's nice to be alone, so I can meet all these people-guess I seem approachable. Anyway, we all hung together on the long, long ferry ride (15 hours.) After we got to Patras we (minus the Swiss people) took a bus into Athens. Boy, when people say Athens isn't all that great they aren't joking! It was sooo gross. The canadians were really stressed out. I was the only one who knew of a place to stay, so everybody followed me to the hostel. We stayed there that was an okay hostel...and the canadians left the next day.

In the morning I went to the Acropolis. It is under construction. It was a great view, but it only took me a few hours. I didn't find any good tour groups to follow around. After the Acropolis I went back to the hostel and was told all the museums are closed right now. Great. No more to do in Athens! Luckily, it was suggested that I go to the Ministiraki flea market. It was tons of fun! So many shops....and great Greek food. When I got back to the hostel that evening I met an incredible girl named Jen. She's been living abroad for about a year...just stopping when she runs out of money & working. She is working in the reception of my hostel now (that's how I met her.) We had a great conversation and went out for the night. I had the best milkshake I've ever had at a little cafe somewhere in Athens.

The next morning Cyrus and I got on the ferry to Paros island. It was 4 hours long. When we got to the port we went to a hostel called Rooms Mike. Mike is very friendly. Today we just walked around the island and I made a sand castle on the beach. It's gorgeous here...just what you would expect (white buildings with blue shutters, beautiful flowers everywhere. I'll let ya know how it goes! Tomorrow we're going to Antiparos (another island very close by) to visit a cave. I think I'll do some swimming tomorrow!

Thanks for checking in!


Friday, September 19, 2003

Greetings from Athens! Florence was grand, Rome was even better. I met an archaeologist who took me on a private tour around a church and near the Pantheon. I had dinner with Swedish girls and very nice Italian guys. It was wonderful! The ferry ride to Greece was long, but I met two nice Canadians and a guy from Illinois. We all came to the same hostel and are helping each other out. Tomorrow I'll tour the Acropolis and I think I'll head to either the island of Paros or Ios the next day and spend two nights.
Everything is going wonderfully. I've discovered I love Greek food! (and it's cheap!) Have to go now...internet use is a bit expensive at this hostel. More information later!

love, eurojess

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Ok. This is gonna have to be quick because I only paid for 30 minutes. I happened upon this spot while wandering around in Florence, Italy. It's sunday (3:00pm) and everything is closed. I got to visit the Duomo, but no museums are open. The city of art and I came when it's all closed. Oh's beautiful. I really like Italy so far. Tomorrow I catch an early train to Rome. Tonight I'm staying in a nice little hostel. Now to account for where I've been:

Wed: Flew into Paris (sat by a very nice girl also traveling alone in Paris.) I got to Paris Thursday around 10-right on schedule

Thurs: my most hectic day. I was exhausted from jet lag...oh, there go some nuns by the window....anyway, I was tired and just wandered around the airport trying to find a cash machine and a way to get to my hostel. I finally got some cash and went in search of transport. A man that directed traffic tried to help me but he didn't speak English. He tried and tried to explain which buses I should take but finally ended up giving me his map and wishing me good luck. I hopped in the first taxi I came to. He was nice. I paid around 40 euro just for the ride but i never would have made it there without him....he even had to look at a map to find it. I got lost in that neighborhood so much. I went to bed early that day.

Fri: I conquered the Paris metro! It wasn't too hard with the map. I toured Notre Dame (all the way to the top!) and walked through the grounds of the Louvre (not inside, I did that last time I was here). I got lost of course and ended up standing beside the monument to Princess Diana over the tunnel where she died. Then I went to the Eiffel Tower (the very top). Roamed around some more and once again got lost going to my hostel (I spent a lot of time just wandering--my blisters are huge!!)

Sat: I stored my baggage at Gare de Lyon (the big train station) and, equipped with map, headed for Mont Martre and the Sacre Coeur. I actually found it!! I must say I was surprised when I suddenly ended up in the district of Paris made up of only black people...all the stores said (Afro Coif). I kept wandering and found a McDonalds...whooo-hoooo! My first real meal consisted of a Big Mac. It was wonderful. I finally found the beautiful church. I knew I was close when everyone was talking English and carrying, an italian couple is staring at me through the window....I went back to the train station adn got my bags. Then I went to the train station (Gare de Bercy) and sat for several hours just to make sure I didn't miss the train. While there I met several English speaking people...some from Vancouver and a guy from Alabama...his accent was worse than mine! We helped each other find our way on the train. I don;t ever want to ride in a couchette reminded me of the pictures you see when the Jews were stuffed in train cars...maybe not that bad, but definitely no room to stretch.
An exciting moment occured when that train reached Milan...i had 5 minutes to get on the right train to Florence (while in a train station with signs in Italian. Great....I ran. The conductor helped me on and everything was fine. Then I arrived in Florence and....yep, got lost. I didn't have a map, so things weren't going too well. I met a girl from New York who'd been wandering all day in Florence and told me where to go...she was very friendly and helpful. I got to my hostel, put up my things, and have been sight-seeing all day--even bigger blisters :). Everything's going great so far...I've never felt threatened or nervous even when lost (which is a majority of the time). I've seen lots of stuff and have a ton more to see. Don't know when I'll be able to write I said, I just happened upon this spot on some backstreet to a closed archaeological museum.

But here is everything I've learned so far in a nutshell: Whatever predicament I've put myself in, God has always provided someone at the right place and at the right time. I really feel like He's guiding me through this because just when I start to get worried a girl from New York or California appears to help me find my way.
Thanks for looking at what I've been doing!! Talk to lyou later!

eurojess (from Paris to Florence)

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

And now for your viewing pleasure......ta dah.....the final itinerary for my invasion of Europe:

Sept. 11: arrive in Paris at Charles de Gaulle airport; spend 2 nights at Hotel Richard

Sept. 13: take an overnight train from Paris to Florence; spend 1 night in Florence

Sept. 15: leave Florence and travel to Rome by train (arrive around noon); stay at Hostel Alessandro Downtown for three nights

Sept. 18: leave Rome and travel by train to Bari, Italy (this is my ferry connection to Greece); get on ferry at 20:00 and arrive in Patras, Greece at 12:30 the next day

Sept 19: travel from Patras to Athens by bus; spend 5 nights in Athens

Sept. 24: return to Patras and catch ferry back to Bari, Italy

Sept. 25: arrive in Bari and travel by train to Brindisi, Italy; take overnight train from Brindisi to Venice

Sept. 26: spend night in Venice

Sept. 27: by train--travel from Venice to Milan and from Milan to Martigny, Switzerland. Spend the afternoon in Switzerland and take the train to Geneva; spend the night in Geneva (in a ridiculously expensive 4 star hotel)

Sept. 28: catch my flight at 6:45 am to London Luton; from there I'll travel to Reading, England and start a great semester with a bunch of drunken English people.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

My plane tickets came in today, so plans are now becoming more concrete. My flight leaves Little Rock September 10th in the afternoon. I'll have an hour layover in Dallas and will arrive in Paris (Charles De Gaulle) at 10 a.m. on September 11th. I have to be at the University in England the 28th or 29th, so who knows about everything in between! I bought a Eurail pass that covers three countries (France, Italy, and Greece) which includes five days of train travel. Here is the most likely schedule of events:

10:00 am arrive at Charles De Gaulle; take transportation from airport to Hotel Richard. Spend 2 nights there. During this time I'll explore Paris.

Sept. 13: leave Paris that night by train; sleep on train; arrive in Venice the next morning (14th)

Sept. 14: spend day in Venice; leave that night by train and arrive in Florence; spend time in Florence at Camping Village Il Poggetto; 3 nights at the Village

Sept. 17: leave in the morning by train and arrive in Rome around noon; 4 nights in Hostel Alessandro

Sept 21: leave around 7 am and travel by train to Ancona, Italy; take Superfast Ferry from Ancona to Patras, Greece (will arrive in Greece the next day)

Sept 22: arrive in Patras around noon; take approx. 2 hour train ride into Athens; spend 2 nights in Zeus hostel

Sept 24: take bus out of Athens & back to Patras in the morning; travel to Ithika by boat & spend one night

Sept 25: take boat back to Patras; leave by ferry for Ancona around 2 pm

Sept 26: arrive in Ancona at 10:30 am; catch train from Ancona to Rome; from Rome to Paris

Sept 27: arrive in Paris around 10 am *this will probably change because I'm sure I'll miss some trains*; take the chunnel from France to England--not sure how long this will take.
Sept 28: hopefully, I'll arrive somewhere near Reading University

Thursday, August 07, 2003

I'm at my second to last day of work at the Children's Hospital here in Little Rock. Maggie informed me of this little place, so I decided it would be good to have when I go to Europe (just to keep the folk updated and sure that I'm alive). I'm just learning how this works at the moment.
Thanks for all your hard work and dedication to this project, Webmagster.

My plans seem to change every day, but as of now I am planning to fly out either September 10 or 11th...I know, I know....couldn't have picked a better date, eh? Well, I'll fly into Paris and spend a few days. Then I'll take the train to Florence and stay there a few days. Then I'll go to Rome for a dinner date with the Pope. Then I'll leave for Venice. After Venice I'll take the train to some place with a port to Greece. Once in Greece I'll travel to Athens and hopefully, time permitting, I'll explore some Greek islands. I'll then fly out of Athens into London. From London I'll go to Reading just in time to start "Welcome Week." My semester will begin and who knows where I'll go during that time (I haven't planned that far ahead just yet)!