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Archive for January, 2011

Girls Trip to Scotland!

This weekend, as mentioned, we went to Edinburgh, Scotland! Girls trip! There were six of us all together, and it has probably been my favorite weekend since being in the UK. Edinburgh is not a big city, but it has some great sights, and definitely fits the mold of old Scottish style. (Don’t worry I am gonna add some pictures onto here!)

When our train got in, our first order of business was to find a hostel. Luckily, across the street there was a cute place with “Bar and Hostel” blazing in neons. The doors to the bedroom were bright yellow! I knew this was the place for me. In terms of hostels, it was really nice. There were ten beds (5 bunks) in our room and one bathroom with a shower. Everything was really clean, and breakfast was included with the stay.

That night, after dinner, we took a ghost tour of the town. Thankfully, it wasn’t a crazy haunted house like in London. Instead, we had a lovely tour guide, Alan, who was a spectacular story teller. This ghost tour was a great way to see the city, although it was at night, and to learn some of its history. There were some pretty awesome facts we learned, like Microsoft purchased a building there for their headquarters. They weren’t allowed to tear it down, so instead the built another building inside the original building. Only Americans.  Another tidbit about Edinburgh? The cemeteries are the second most common place for public sex.

There was another monument for Abraham Lincoln in Edinburgh (the first was in London.) Apparently, the Scottish people believe that if you die far from home, your soul searches the Earth until it reaches home. Many Scottish people immigrated to America during the civil war, and were sent to battle, and died. This tribute to Abe is in hopes that the souls will find their way home faster.

We climbed down stairs, called Jacob’s Ladder. For those not familiar with the Bible, Jacob’s Ladder leads up to Heaven, and down to Hell. We went down. On Sunday, though, we climbed up with our luggage and everything. Let me say that these stairs will be the death of me, so it’s a good thing we were heading up that time.

On Saturday, we had a full day! We went to Edinburgh Castle. The view from the castle was gorgeous. They had many museums set up in the castle. dedicated to the Royal Jewels, the war veterans, and the royal families. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take a lot of pictures inside. I definitely recommend traveling there though! It’s worth seeing in person, and it is also the inspiration of Hogwarts! Which leads nicely into our Harry Potter adventures…

We ate lunch at The Elephant House, which is the place where J.K Rowling started writing Harry Potter on a napkin! It’s a cute little cafe and the view from the window is the castle. There isn’t too much dedicated to J.K., but there was paper at our table for writing. Also, the bathroom was signed by many Potter fans, and the toilet was a shrine to Harry Potter characters. It was a beautiful sight. After the Elephant house, we found the Balmoral Hotel where she FINISHED writing Harry Potter. It was definitely bitter sweet.

That night we ate at cute restaurant, and I finished my whole plate. It was a big deal because I never make a happy plate! We also had the best dessert ever, it literally tastes like heaven on steroids. We went out to a pub after dinner to get the true Scottish feel. It was fun to be out with the girls and just laugh and talk. Some men, I won’t say OLD men because it will insult people (but they were old!), around my Dad’s age came over and asked to buy us drinks. I wonder if they realized how much younger we are. And one guy was from Finland. Couldn’t understand a word from his mouth.

The next day we had to check out by 10 am, so we carried around our bags the entire day. We decided to go see the sights from the ghost tour during the day, and take pictures. Let’s just say we were all very sore and tired when we got to lunch.

Scotland was great, we had a really fun time. It was nice to come back to my own room tho and not live out of a backpack! I can’t wait for our next trip 🙂

PS: Here are those pictures I promised!

Yeah, that’s us with the real Braveheart. Not really, but he was raising money for Leukemia.

Mr. Abe Lincoln

Gorgeous 🙂

Edinburgh Castle!

Self-Explanatory

What J.K. Rowling saw inspiring her for Hogwarts! View from the Elephant House

Mmm..meat pie and potatoes.

The view from the top of Jacob’s Ladder. Not sure if it was worth breaking my back for, but definitely nice 🙂

I will write later love to all!

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Hey Everyone!

Interesting title? I was hoping to grab some attention, but it is also a direct quote from a girl in my class. Lately, being American has gotten me more attention than I ever imagined. Yesterday, shopping in Liverpool, we were in the dressing room talking when a girl about 10 or 11 poked her head out from being the curtain, looked wide-eyed, and whispered, “Are you American?!” I replied yes, and she said “OMG where are you from?” “Pennsylvania.” “I feel like I should get your autograph or something!” Let me tell you honey, Pennsylvania is not that interesting.

Then, today in class, instead of doing group work, it turned into “Question the American.” I was asked, what age is it legal to have sex and have babies, is Oprah really famous in USA cause she is really famous in the UK, are there a lot of fat people, how do high school students, like on One Tree Hill, get kegs if they are underage, what happens if you’re underage anyway?!?

I mentioned how I was thoroughly missing some Goldfish, and they looked at me in horror. “Like a fish pet?” One girl questioned. I then had to explain the cheesy goodness that is Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.

Other than that, things have been going good here. We are doing a girls trip to Edinburgh this weekend and intend to stalk JK Rowling. I heard we are getting a lot of snow at home, feel free to send it here!

xx

G

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Yesterday I received a box from my family filled with wonderful American things. My friends and I have had a good time picking through it (and devouring the swedish fish!). Also included in the box was my CAMERA CORD. Which means that I have finally uploaded all of my pictures onto the computer. The pictures are on facebook, but I figured I would put my favorite ones up here 🙂

(left to right) (bottom) Me, Callie, Jordan
(top) Thelma, Felicia

(left to right) Thelma, Callie, Jordan, Me, Felicia, Anastasia. In a castle in Wales. Pretty cool, right?

The fantastic view from Conwy castle in Wales!

The castle itself! It was built around the late 1200’s into the early 1300’s. Certainly don’t have things that old in America!

For every Harry Potter fan out there: The TRUE Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross!

A view of London…Big Ben is hanging out in the back!

Duncan, Me, Jordan, and Felicia in front of Buckingham Palace!

Jordan and me in front of Big Ben!

A night out on the town!

I hope everyone enjoyed pictures. If you want to see more, they are all on my facebook, or just request that I put more up!

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A Wee Bit of America

Hey Everyone! Hope the weekend treated you all well! My first order of business is to say that my blog has reached 700 views! Wow! My next big goal is 1,000…I hope to reach it soon.

This weekend I went to Manchester to visit my favorite UK cousins Kenneth and Taryn. I was really excited to see familiar faces, to see their flat, and to eat good food! Taryn took me for a manicure and to the mall Saturday day, and I must say, it was nice to do something so normal instead of visit a castle or legendary city ( I know I know, poor Gabriella is getting to travel everywhere). That night they took me out on the town. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe for a bit of home cookin’, and then to Taryn’s favorite bar. We ran into a good friend, Ben, and it was nice to have a bit of a chat.

It was also nice to simply lounge around on the couch, watch tv, and cook a meal. Taryn made chicken parm for dinner which was superb. It was just nice to have a taste of home!

This coming weekend the girls and I are taking a trip to Edinburgh which should be great fun! This will be the first over night trip we’ve done together, so wish us luck!

I will try to catch everyone up later this week.

 

xxx

G

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Hey Everyone! Sorry this blog is a long time coming! While I have been crazy busy, I have also been putting off writing this blog. Who knows why, but I have.

I guess the big thing to report is that I went to LONDON on Saturday. We started our adventure off at 5 AM, a little too early for me personally. The train took about 3 hours, and the first thing we did when we got to London? We went to McDonalds. FYI: Bacon in the UK is more like ham. Learned that the hard way. After we were properly nourished and caffeinated, we went to the ultimate London spot: Platform 9 3/4! Naturally, we pretended to push the cart through the wall (I’m pretty sure I could hear Hagrid…). London is a lot warmer than it is here in Ormskirk, which is fitting because it is more southern than we are.

We saw all the sites, had lunch with the queen (not really, but we did eat near the palace, so…), and went to the London Tombs. Big Ben is not as big as he proclaims to be…guys are always exaggerating about their size! The palace is gorgeous, I just wish we could’ve gotten inside. And, no, we didn’t get to mess around with the guards because we went on their off day. I didn’t know guards got days off. Westminster Abbey was just as stunning, the architecture was breathtaking. We don’t have old stuff like this in America that’s for sure. Oh, and I totally intend on getting married there as well. We can afford it, right?

There was a statue of Abraham Lincoln in front of Parliament. Abe, what are ya doing in England? None of the British knew why he was there either. The London Tombs was a historical haunted house, and let me just say that it scared the life out of me! When we came out from the Tube (Mind the gap please), we all decided to be touristy and take pictures near everything that looked remotely British. Because of this, we spent the next 45 minutes getting lost/running for our train/missing the train. Not so fun. We were all tired, cranky, and just wanted to go home. The next train came in a half hour though, so 45 pounds later, we were off.

London was a great experience, but it is just like any other city. Many parts of it look exactly like NYC, and if it weren’t for the accent, I wouldn’t be sure where I was. I am happy I chose to study in this small town instead.

Classes started monday, and so far I have had 2. Each class (or module as they are called here) is broken into Lecture and Seminar. I will be doing a lot of reading, but there are minimal assignments for each class. A passing grade if 40% here, and a 70% is considered an A. Hey USA, could we adapt this method please?

Another big step? I did my laundry for the first time in a foreign country! YAY! I have to say that I have been spoiled at my apartment with a washer and dryer. I miss that. I also saw my first bug here. It was a spider in the bathroom. Not great, but significantly less bugs than home. I also miss normal food, although at every meal fries (chips) are available. Brits ❤ Potatoes apparently.

I am having a good time, and trying to soak in the culture. This weekend I am going to visit Kenneth and Taryn in Manchester! It will be nice to have some familiar faces around, and maybe a home cooked meal.

Please message me your addresses if you would to like receive a postcard 🙂

Miss you all, hope everyone is well

xxx

G

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Hey everyone! Hope everything is good stateside…I heard you got some snow! Jealous. All we get here is drizzly rain. But, I am in England, so I can’t complain too much.

The past few days have been filled with downtime, although Wednesday I did go to my first ever club for Jordan’s 21st bday! I bought a new dress and shoes and everything. I don’t know what’s happening to me! We all had a good time, and Jordan had a good birthday.

Tomorrow we are heading to LONDON! Woo. I am pretty excited to play tourist and take tons of pictures and see everything! The trip to London has got me thinking about where else I want to travel. The first weekend of February, we are planning a trip to Poland to see Auschwitz (I hope I spelled that right). A couple of us are hoping to head to our homeland, Sicily, in the beginning of April.  My family is coming over in the middle of Feb, so we will head to Scotland to visit relatives. And when my boyfriend comes in March, we are going to Paris!

I am so excited to visit all of these new places, but I think I’m getting addicted! It’s not enough, I want to go to Spain, Greece, EVERYWHERE! My roommate and I are also planning a cruise for next winter for our birthdays/graduation/anniversaries.

Looking forward to these trips make me less homesick which is good. I still miss home, work, and my family. Erik yelled at me for not mentioning him in the blog, so Erik, this is for you. You better read this!

Also an update, my dad is out of the hospital, home and resting! Hope he recovers soon so he can visit in a month!

Sorry this isn’t a great update, but I promise after my time in London I will have tons to write about!

 

xxx

G

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Hey Everyone.

The past few days have been more relaxed than my original days in England, but I still appreciate them. Yesterday, a big group of us went into Liverpool. The day was a typical English day: gross, rainy, and busy. It seems the rain doesn’t keep the British down. But seriously how could they let it? Liverpool was pretty awesome, The Beatles were everywhere. I think the highlight of the day was going to The Cavern (http://www.cavernclub.org/) the first place The Beatles played together. There was a live cover one-man band playing. He sounded so much like the Beatles it definitely got us into the mode. Signatures adorned the walls, even the bathroom stalls. Any Beatles fan would be in love at this place, most of us were in heaven. I think we plan to go back on Thursday for Jordan’s 21st birthday!

Today was the first chill out day we have all had. Apparently British people have never eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (the horror!) so we all went to a park down the street and had a mini picnic. A freezing, standing, complaining picnic. They found pb&j  to be bizarre, apparently the consistencies don’t go together. Go figure. We fed some ducks and swans, the swans are scary, scary things. When we stopped giving them bread, they started to walk towards us. Not cool. Cool little fact: The Queen owns all unmarked swans in the UK.

In other news, my dad is in the hospital. Obviously it’s serious, but it could’ve been a lot worse. I really do wish I could be there for him and for my family. Please just keep him in your prayers, he is in the best place he could be and hopefully things get better real soon. I love you Dad!

Hope everyone is doing well, and I will try to update you soon. We are going to London this weekend so I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say.

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