Tuesday, December 28, 2010

holiday-ing [2].

On Friday of Thanksgiving break we took a train to Amsterdam. After getting delayed for an hour due to a fire at the airport, we made it to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is such an incredible city. They call it the "Venice of the North." There are over a thousand bridges and hundreds of canals... Amsterdam charmed me.





One of the cutest things about this city is that everyone rides bikes. There is no way you can even comprehend how many bikes there are until you see the parking garages full of bikes and are almost hit by a bike every time you cross the street.





We went to the cutest flower market that was right on a canal. I bought 40 tulip bulbs that aren't legal to import into the US (shhhh) so I am having a friend ship them home... but they are beautiful! I met the cutest Dutch man (below), he taught me how to say a few Dutch words, gave me a euro off my price, and kissed me on both cheeks. 


We went to the Anne Frank House and saw street performers at Dam Square:


I started re-reading the Diary of Anne Frank in preparation for this trip, and it made the experience so much better. Visiting the Anne Frank House was one of my favorite things about the trip and gave me so much more respect for her family and those who fought in WW2 to stop the Holocaust.

Of course we ate Dutch Pancakes:


Devri, Brianna, Caroline, and I ordered a pancake each and shared. We had one chicken and cheese, one bacon and cheese, one apple and banana, and one with cinnamon ice cream.


I wanted to make sure that we conquered all 4 of them, but unfortunately the other girls got full pretty quick. I decided to bring up the rear and finished them off... it was a little painful but worth it. They were so delicious and victory looked sweet when we saw 4 empty plates!


We may or may not have gone back for round two Saturday morning. 

We also went to the Van Gogh Museum and saw tons of wooden shoes:


The Van Gogh Museum is my favorite museum I have ever been to. It starts out showing the artists that influenced Van Gogh, follows his paintings chronologically through the cities in which he painted, and ends with his contemporaries. Absolutely beautiful and very informative.


We went to the IAMSTERDAM sign:



One of my favorite spots was a little Christmas market. Of course I loved the lights and ice skating rinks, but if I am being completely honest... I loved it for the olibollens. They are heaven in a fried roll of dough topped with powdered sugar. Absolutely incredible! A great way to end the trip and warm us up... we may or may not have had two...


Although some people find Amsterdam to be a little obscene, we were lucky enough to not run into anything of the sort. I absolutely loved Amsterdam. It is completely different than any place I have ever visited. I was absolutely charmed by the cute dutch architecture, the beautiful canals and bridges, the plethora of friendly English speakers, and the vibrancy of the culture. 

More to come!

Monday, December 6, 2010

holiday-ing.

Over Thanksgiving break we were able to travel wherever we would like for "holiday." Natalie, Brianna, Caroline, Jordan, Molly, Grace, Devri, and I chose to go to Brussels and Amsterdam. Other girls in our program were in Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and the Czech Republic. It was such an amazing trip! We saw so much in those 4 days... and crammed so much into our tiny backpacks! 


Just before we left on our trip!


On the Eurostar to Brussels. We took the ferry to France in September so I was really excited to get to take the chunnel. It is so nice and easy! I'm a fan. 


Brussels Grand Palace Market put on a light show for Christmas, it was sooo cool! The Grand Palace Market is one of my favorite spots in Brussels, the architecture is incredible. 


Of course the first thing we ate, even before dinner, was a Belgian waffle. They are incredible. I don't think I can ever have another waffle again after this trip, they just won't live up to the real deal. I had 4 in the matter of 1 night and 1 day. They are that good. Strawberries with whip cream and sugar is my favorite!

We were in Brussels all day Thursday and started exploring early that morning...


A cathedral we ran into and the European commission building. 


I never would have thought that I would grow to love going into churches, but Dr. Seely has converted us into "sacred space lovers." Even on our vacations away from our professors we hit all the major churches and analyzed the architecture and the way it represents sacred space. nerds. thanks Dr. Seely.

We walked through Brussels' main park and saw their arc. The park was gorgeous and so was the arc. I loved how the Belgium flag was hung in the middle archway. 


We went into the museum at the end of the park and went through the coolest and photography exhibit. It was of the best photographs of world events for 2010 and it was very eye-opening. 





We also went to the Atomium, which is essentially Brussels' Eiffel Tower. It was built for the World Exhibition of 1958. The theme of that exhibition was modernism... we can't get away from our school work here! of course we had to report back to our Great War and Modernism teacher Dr. Tate.


Inside the Atomium


Throwing up the Trekkie sign in the futuristic Atomium.

Brussels was such a blast! It is such a cute little town. One of the things that made it really fun was that my dad served there for 6 months of his mission, I loved picturing my little dad riding his bike around the town in a suit. I went with the best girls and just had an absolute blast. We celebrated Thanksgiving over steak and fries, shared what we were thankful for, and went to a Mozart concert at a cathedral, it was perfect.

And of course, we goofed off a ton!


Just reenacting a wedding scene on the steps of the cathedral and having fun in the metro.







Playing in the park.


Brother Seely, my director, touches everything everywhere he goes... especially if there is a do not touch sign. His reasoning is pretty awesome, "how many people can say they have touched a Roman wall, the grave of King Henry the 7th, or Shakespeare's childhood home?" Well now thanks to Brother Seely, I can answer yes to all of the above and much more. I've taken this touching thing to heart... a worker at Westminster Abbey even asked us what we were doing because he saw us bending down to touch the graves of all of our favorites in Poet's Corner. Well here I'm just giving the booty of this guy a little touch haha.

More to come (Amsterdam tomorrow)!

wale-watching.

Our trip to Wales was the last over night trip we had together :( (yes, it took me about 1 month to post about it). It was super quick but still really fun. We coached over there and stopped at a few fun things along the way, spent the night in Cardiff, and stopped at church history sites on the way home. 

My favorite thing we did in Wales was going to the Big Pit Coal Mine



















Wales is a tiny country, only about 6 million, but just under half of us on the program are Welsh! Got to love Mormon connections. A lot of Welsh people joined the church during the Apostolic Mission of the church in 1838-1841 (just got tested on that.. don't worry, I don't just know random church history statistics). Many of them worked in coal mines so we went to take a look at what they were like.

Most of the people were so poor that they couldn't afford a candle for their children that worked in the mine. Kids as young as 6 had to work in the mines :(. They would leave 6 days a week before sunrise and got home after sunset so they never saw the light.

We also went to Wales World, a museum about Welsh Life:


The second day of the trip was our family history trip. We went to a lot of different sites including the Benbow Farm

Hundreds of early Saints were baptized here.

Malvern Hill Beacon
Wilford Woodruff dedicated the potteries (this area of England) on this hill. It was the windiest place I have ever been.

Gadfield Elms Chapel:

This is the oldest Mormon meetinghouse. 

We had a little program and sang hymns in the chapel, it was so great. 

Wales was great, glad to add another country to my list! Don't know if I would go back but I am sure glad I went.

More to come!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

celebrating.

Happy Christmas from London!


Oxford and Regent Street are lit up, there is a Christmas tree and Menorah in Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park Corner turned into Winter Wonderland, Mariah Carey's Holiday CD is on repeat on my ipod, Christmas shoppers crowd the streets, and it even snowed! Christmastime is definitely here, and I couldn't be more excited about it all! 

More to come!

refining.

The professors have done an excellent job at making sure we get cultured and refined.

We went to a symphony:

I loved Dvor├ík's symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70. incredible. changed my life. I am now a believer in orchestra music. 


We went to a ballet at the Royal Opera House: 


We went to the Opera:

We saw La Boheme.... opera isn't my favorite. 

And we've been to tea twice! Hopefully now I'll be more lady-like and proper when I come home!

More to come!