Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So Long Scotland

Today we woke up and went to Arthur’s Seat which is one of the tallest hills in Scotland. We hiked up to the very top and it was beautiful. Edinburgh is starting to grow on me, I guess its because I was able to get out of the city. The hike was beautiful and we could see out over the city for miles. On our way we saw this exhibit that showed a bunch of crazy street signs. They were so funny! I will post a few pictures of them. We then went to my favorite store (marks and Spencer’s) which is probably the thing about Europe that I will miss the most. We stocked up on some last minute groceries and then came back to the hostel to pack. It was our professor’s birthday today so we made a few cakes. We got really into it and went all out. The only problem is that people here do not know what frosting is so we had to improvise. For one of the cakes we found some marzipan and tried to make that work, and for the other one we melted a giant chocolate bar and used that for frosting. We made some really awesome chocolate covered strawberries to top the cakes off. Even though we had a hard time getting the right ingredients the cakes turned out really good.
I am really sad to be leaving Europe tomorrow. I definitely could have stayed in London a lot longer. Im ready to get out of this hostel though… I feel like this is worse than camping… it will be good to see my family and friends but I am not ready for this adventure to be over. I am really so lucky to have been able to participate on this study abroad. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am really grateful to be here. Im heading home tomorrow morning at 6 am and get into salt lake at around 9 pm. Lets just say its going to be a long long day.

Funny Signs

Last few days.. (August 10th)

Top picture is of me and my professors... from the left (Larry, Diane, Me, Rachel our TA, and Wendy)

Yesterday we basically worked on our paper all morning and got most of it done. After we went out to lunch to the café that J.K. Rawlings started to write Harry Potter. It was called the elephant café. It was decent food, nothing too special but it was fun to be there. After we walked around Edinburgh and saw a lot of the city. This place is still not one of my favorites. Its dirty and crowded. In one store I thought I was going to go crazy because there were a billion people, not enough space, and annoying bagpipe music playing way way too loud. The day did get better though. We had our closing banquet last night and we went to this really good restaurant. Dinner was so good but the best part was dessert (white chocolate cheesecake with blackberries)!! We watched a slide show of all of our pictures and everyone was given an award. Mine was “so much fun we forget she’s a vegetarian.” It was a fun night and a good time being with everyone one last time.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yes.... I am in London!!!

So London is a pretty sweet place. That about sums it up. There is MUCH to do, and people from all over the world. Literally. There are a million of Indians here.. suprise suprise. They are like our Mexicans in America. Anyways, after getting to London, we kinda hit reality again and realized we had to study. So the first few days were spent catching up on homework, which consists of visiting various sites in London. (hard school isn't it?) One night... we sat in our flats having done homework all day.....
and me being in one of my weird Mandie moods... really needed to get out!! Me and my friend Kenzie literally went crazy. We bought scarves and are pretty sure these are the sweetest ways to wear them.... after a while, we heard of a rumor, that it was Big Ben's 150 B-day party that very night... It took much effort, but finally we pulled our friends out of the apartment. 

When we got off the tube, I finally got to see London as we all think of it... This is WestMinisters Abby... huge church where kings and queens are buried, and where current kings and queens are crowned..
House of Parliament... Big Benny!!! Happy birthday little guy
Isn't he a beauty?

It was pouring rain, but we didn't care! Come to find out, the "huge celebration" for his b-day was displaying a Happy BIrthday on the building. Pretty exciting... we were looking for a huge party but alas there was none to be found. We did enjoy talking to the hot dog man though! and just being in London..
This is our freakin out picture... Basically, every time we get really excited about something, we have our own signs.. me, i freak out by making noises with my armpit. Real original.
What a perfect picture...The good ol London eye... with me! and the purple building in the background. Gotta love purple.  One of my traditions on this trip is everytime I am completely content with the moment, I try and record a little montage of it. Otherwise known as "mandie's Montage" (thanks to my friend Sara). Here we are documenting Ben's birthday! 

London is amazing. That is all i have to say. Despite the rain, I was dazzled.... 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The beautiful Wales!!!

So for all ya'll who don't think much of Wales, you are exactly how I was before going there. But having been there simply a day and a half, I have decided it is the most beautiful place I have seen by far. The pictures don't do it justice. After leaving Ireland on a ferry, we arrived in Wales and hit up many sites in the short time we had!
This picture is almost impossible to read, but that freakin long name...is the name of this town. Don't worry,  the first thing our bus driver did when he picked us up was put on a cd that taught us how to say the name of this town. 
After seeing many castles, I thought for sure I would be sick of them. But the Welsh castles were amazing in many ways... First, the scenery was gorgeous. The style of the town was old and royal. There were bays with many sail boats, and the ocean was near by also. Sadly, I can't remember the name of this castle, but many crazy things happened here. Keep reading to find out!
Just one view from the castle..
a picture showing a little bit of the town...
here I am in a national park called Snowden. It was absolutely stunning. We stopped to take pictures and this picture represents how i felt.. literally you felt unstoppable here! I pretty much just wanted to fly away here..and this was the closest i could get. 
this was all you could see for many miles.. add in waterfalls everywhere.. and sheep. 
Here we are in the city our hostel was at. It was a city that was built inside the castle walls... which are pretty massive. In this picture we climbed the castle that had a road going under it. We got yelled at by young Welsh boys that "this was dangerous"... you wuld think we could figure that out. This city was amazing!
the pier that was just down the street from our hostel.. 
Me trying not to fall..
View from the castle tower up on the hill... unreal eh?

the next day we traveled to some church history sites. This is the pond where Wilford Woodruff baptized around 300 saints in the Wales/England area. It was in the backyard of some farm, but the church owns this property. 
Here is Kenzie and I on the top of the highest "mountain" in Wales. Well it felt like it anyways. ONce again, I don't think anything could ever beat this moment... this is the hill where Brigham Young recieved revelation that he should publish the Book of Mormon in England..and I don't blame him after lookin out on all that country.. how could you not. p.s.... it was so windy you could pratically lay back and the wind would hold you up. It was crazy!
view from the hill...
WINDY!!!!... crazy hair on top of mountain
here is the oldest standing LDS chapel in the world. In order to get in you had to answer some basic Mormon questions. Ex: How old do you have to be to be baptized? it was funny. From here we travelled about 3 and a half hours to London..... where we could finally move out our stuff and settle in. 
When we arrived.. we literally were FREAKING out. We were in London..... that's all I have to say..!! 

Highlights of Wales:

The first castle we went to, was pretty high up. We were looking through the windows where they would shoot bow and arrows. One was old and wider than the others. I decided to stick my body out as much as I could..being about 30-40 feet up... as I came back in, my shoe fell off into the mote below that was a non tourist place to go, and was guarded by the castle walls. I freaked out a bit because I though I was going to be shoeless for the next 2 days. Fortunately, my friend Tiare was able to hop the fence and get it. In the mean time I walked around the castle in my bright pink sock getting many weird stares.

Tiare and I were able to help a man up the hill that wasn't able to make it. It was a long story, but a really growing experience. 

The hostel we stayed in that night was the best by far. It was in an awesome location. (castle city!) and we each had our own outlet plugs. we loved it.

Wales was simply stunning... I would go back in a heart beat.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dublin Ireland

So here is a pic of the city of Dublin, Ireland.  preTty Sweet huh? haha not a whole lot to see here in this pic, but Dublin was a happening place. To me, Dublin wasn't that big of a city compared to New York and London. It was for sure a sketchy place though. The first day we got there, in the newspaper was a story of a man who was stabbed in broad daylight, and who laid in the city square bleeding for an hour before someone helped. It freaked me out a bit. Despite this, Dublin had some awesome pubs, cute guys, amazing shopping (typical), and some really strange things too.... 
So this picture ain't nothin special... but considering I snuck the picture in a no picture zone makes it pretty amazing. This is the Library at Trinity college. Probably the coolest library ever! If you look closely there are books stacked from the bottom to the top... books that were very very old. Maybe I just found this cool because for one it was a library, and for two, it had the smell of books...which is amazing. 
Here is a small sample of what the Trinity College in Dublin was like on a rainy day. We saw the Book of Kells here..which is an illuminated manuscript of the four gospels. (one of the oldest copies of the four gospels in the bible that survives) woa!!
As me and Nikki sat in this shoe store...we realized we were leaving Ireland without an Irish kiss.... so i was designated the lucky job to awkwardly ask him..."i know this is a really weird question... but we have a checklist to do in Ireland before we leave, and our last one is to kiss an Irish guy.." haha this dude instantly turned red. He looks 16 but in person more my age. Everyone around us laughed and he darted away after... it was preTTy funny!
We were pretty ecstatic when we found Subway for only 2 euros...which is the cheapest food we've gotten yet. It was raining outside and we went into a Mcdonalds to eat, and got kicked out. So we sat and ate probably where a bum slept...in the rain, pretty upset that the one place that reminded us of America, kicked us out. 
Many strange things happened in Dublin... many strange people were there. This white thing started dancing with me.. and then gave me a sucker? 
Oh and don't worry... Michael Jackson didn't die, but was hiding in Ireland. This dude was either high on drugs or had something wrong because he was shaking with his all white eyes... freaky!!!
Me, Nikki, Kenzie found my newest favorite store.. Acessorize. I loved everything in there and we found these cool hats that everywhere in Europe has... ! sweet
Sunday..walking the "30 mins" our instructors told us it took to church. This is at the beginning of our walk.. when we still had energy. And yes, the walk was MUCh longer than 30 mins. On the way, I stepped on a wobbly tile and just my luck mud shot up my skirt. Go figure
This picture is to simply show my teacher Wendy, and how aweomse she is. Instead of being a professor, she's more like a mother...and basically told us to have fun and that will be our grade! awesome..
Our second trip to church for the fireside... We wore tennis shoes and skirts. Cute huh.
The Irish church!!!

Highlights of Ireland...

So by far my favorite part of Dublin took place when me and my friend took a midnight stroll with our buddies Jacob and Garret past midnight in Dublin city. We got pretty far in the city, and got ready to turn around, when we heard a local pub singing "American Pie". Me and Tiare decided that we should get the whole pub experience so we went in and started belting out the song with all the drunk Irish people. It was one of the most fun things I've ever done. Everyone was so happy and they linked arms with us and started to sway back and forth. Pretty funny.... 

The hostel we stayed in was a former convent which was pretty exciting. There was statues of Christ, an old confessional booth, and a big cathedral we would eat in. This hostel was my favorite because it was a larger hostel and people from literally all around the world were there. We talked to people from Australia, Italy, Argentina, Spain, and there were girls all over from France etc. that did NOt like us. But it was a good culture experience. 

The other thing I liked about Dublin is that they had really fun flee markets, fun shoppin and tons of street performers. I lOved it!!!

Overall Dublin was a fun city and fitting, but kinda sketchy at the same time! woot woot...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ireland take 2!

So after a couple days of driving and seeing lame castles like Ross castle, the thought of yet another one seemed pretty boring. (ya when would you think a castle would be boring)? but lo and behold.. we showed up to St Patricks Castle and it was freakin awesome. THIS is what I imagined Ireland like. The pics don't do it justice.. but the first picture is the graveyard in the back..with an awesome view of fields... 
Massive insides. St Patrick walked here...good ol st patty
next thing i knew... Sarah was sacrificing me. Creepy to think people actually were sacrificed here. 

this picture is to try and show how tall the building was. Seriously, I was fascinated!
a classy picture outside of a cafe, which by the way is one of my favorite things to do. It was a perfect day in Ireland and no rain!! 

Here's a few facts I discovered and found unusual in Irish Land:

Driving on the opposite side of the road can be super freaky, especially when the roads are narrow and you are driving right on the edge of a cliff...

Toliets flush in the opposite direction.. and Ireland can't seem to pick a style of toliet

all sink faucets have a faucet for hot, and one for cold. You push it and race until the water stops. Showers are exciting because the button lasts total of 30 seconds. 

Pubs are probably the funnest thing i have done. It is good, clean fun minus the drinking! This was discovered as me and my friend entered one and watching the drunks sway to the song "american pie" . Haven't had that much fun in quite some time. 

Apparently Convent Hostels like to wake you up with awesome European Techno music. It would def pass as runway music. Beware... if you ask if it is Irish music, you will be glared at and told it is just "on the radio"

The food here is extremely expensive, very small portions, and flavorless. But the cookies here and Digestive cookies rock my world!

The Irish make their money off of tourists.. their government is really crappy. Goes to show why they love foreigners. They are awesome people though. 

Ireland is in a horrible recession. 

And no one ever warned me that Irish men were so good lookin! and the "red hair" Irish stereo type is not true. I saw a total of 3 read heads.. one including my self.

The Irish doors are all different, bright and unique. We started a door collection. 

That is all for now!!! Thanks for reading friends!!