Friday, February 22, 2008

Lots to report...

If you're wondering about the cryptic/weird nature of my last post, I only made it because I felt bad for not having made any in a while and I had just seen that and thought it kind of funny. Nothing more or less.

Anyway, have had some adventures in the past twoish weeks. First weekend in February had me trucking off to Galway, Ireland to visit Braelyn (The Girlfriend, for those unfamiliar with the cast of my life). She's studying at the National University of Ireland at Galway, playing Rugby and drinking lots of Guinness, and as she had seen my home away from home, it was only fair that I visited hers.

The first thing I noticed about Ireland after coming through the clouds was how GREEN the place was - everything just looked incredibly lushed and like it was striving its hardest to live up to the country's "official" color.

So I arrived and we spent some time walking around the city. This picture off to the right is the tremendously old Presbyterian cathedral (an interesting sight in Ireland) right in downtown, about 5 minutes from the harbor/Galway Bay. It was lowtide and we walked out into the bay a bit and took a series of unflattering shots of us looking cutesy.

I've become something of a pub fiend over here in the British Isles, and I just had to see some of Galway's (apparently) famous nightlife. First pub had a decent, straightforward rock band, second traditional Irish music and, finally, Brae and her friends somehow talked me into going to a dance club (note: dancing ain't quite my specialty).Note the look she is giving my dancing attempt.

Anyway, the night out was fun and we spent the next one laying low and watching Rugby. Then, suddenly, it was time to say tearful goodbyes and for me to head back to MY island until our two year anniversary in April, where we're trying to figure out an Eastern European city to visit (ideas welcome).

Following weekend I had signed up with a few friends for a day trip to Oxford, hoping to pick up some smarts via osmosis.

While that didn't quite work, we did wander around the university for a while and drink at a pub formerly patronized by JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, which was kind of a trip. Oh, and saw some Harry Potter-related sites, which is always a goal in the back of my head over here in his neck of the woods.

Also wandered up to London once again two days ago. My old football buddy RJ is studying up there for the semester and a my friend Kate - a fellow history lover - hadn't visited the British Museum yet, so we simply had to take her.
The place is still awe inspiring.

So we met up with RJ, had some pints, checked out other museums (National Portrait Gallery is way cool) and wrapped up another fantastic day in London with a meal in China town. I will truly miss that city when I head back home.

So that's the update for now. Keep checking for my bi-weekly column (I think there's one up there now - B-Side, Life and Style section, you'll recognize the title).

Keep readin'!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What You've All Been Waiting For

This isn't study abroad related, but IS an answer to a question I'm sure you've all been asking yourselves for years now: What does David Lee Roth sound like in the shower?

Well my friends, this is the closest we have ever come to an answer:


Friday, January 11, 2008

Back again

Been awhile guys. When we left off, I was hoping I would somehow make it back from a trip across Scotland in one piece. Well, it was easy to survive considering I didn't end up going. At the last second I realized that I simply don't have the money for such a trip and ended up staying home. Ah well, I got lots of reading done.

After a little over a week or solitude in my flat, I was paid a visit by my parents - my mom's first trip to England in something like thirty years and my dad's first ever. I almost didn't have a chance to print off my bus ticket to London to meet them, considering everything was closed on 12/23, but some kind folks at a pub I frequent let me use their printer as a last resort and I met up with the folks on the morning of Christmas Eve.We all celebrated seeing each other for the first time in months at a pub - the first of many over the course of what would be a long and excellent visit.

Spent the day checking into the hotel, napping (they had just taken a seven hour flight and I had to be up at 5 to catch my bus) and wandering around London, taking in the sights. We had dinner in another pub then headed over to Westminster which was about as dead as you'll ever see it, being Christmas Eve, and everything was closed or closing. Still pretty though, as you can see.

Christmas Day broke rainy and the area around Victoria Station was equally dead. We slept in, exchanged gifts (some hiking gear from my parents, a Keith Jarrett CD from my friend Charlie, a leather desk note pad thing from Florence to my parents from me and a sapphire necklace to mom from dad) and basically relaxed all day. Not much was open, but I remembered the Christmas lights being gorgeous on Old Bond Street from my last visit earlier in the month so I had the three of us walk over that way to check out the displays in the ridiculously overpriced stores and the decorations.

Obviously everything was boarded up for the holidays, but we found a bar where we could warm up and hang out and ended up sitting around there and laughing until they closed, then came back and went to bed. All in all a memorable and relaxing Christmas Day.

We had three more days in London and things slowly began opening again, most importantly the Tube, so I had a chance to do all the touristy stuff that is too expensive for me to do on my frequent visits to the city.
The London Eye in particular was a highlight. We also checked out the Tower of London (mom wanted to see the Crown Jewels) and capped the whole trip off by seeing Wicked - check it out if you haven't, it was spectacular. Even my dad enjoyed it!

So that was London. One of my favorite cities in the world and now it's one of my parents favorites as well, so mission accomplished. We left via Heathrow on the 29th for The Netherlands and made it to Den Helder that night for a day and two nights of relaxation. We were picked up at the train station by the father of a family friend whose summer house we were staying in - a rather boisterous and eccentric old man who took to especially...immediately. More laughs and drinks with them before we bedded down for the night.

We didn't do much on the 30th - we barely even ate, which is an extreme rarity for us. Around sunset we walked about a mile over the nearby dyke to checkout sunset over the North Sea which was worth the walk.

We didn't get into Amsterdam the next day until late in the afternoon and made it to the Anne Frank house JUST as it was closing up for the next few days so no culture for us. Instead we bought some champagne and cheese, headed back to the hotel and got started on NYE a little early. The scene in Amsterdam was unreal - it sounded like I imagine a warzone would soundlike, just people yelling and screaming over the constant din of the popping firecrackers, smoke and light everywhere and huge crowds. The whole experience was at once overwhelming and chaotic while not once becoming worrisome or too much. Just plain fun. Delicious pastries at every corner too, which (quite literally) made the experience even sweeter. Amusingly enough, after a few Heinekens we ended up missing the official fireworks display in Dam Square, but we still had our fair taste of pyrotechnics, including a display directly at my mom's feet which sent her scuttling for safety in a hurry.
So that was New Year's Eve in Amsterdam. The next day we took in the sights, at some Thai food and took a boat cruise to see the city via its many canals. Day after we parted ways and I met my girlfriend at Heathrow for a four day visit which was excellent, being the first time we had seen each other since early September. All in all, it was an amazing two weeks and a nice break from being completely alone in my flat. Everyone is back now and I start classes back up next week, thank goodness - all this idle time is driving me nuts. Next on the agenda: Ireland to visit the girl. Before that, hopefully I'll be taking a trip up to London to visit a high school friend who is studying there - I also have friends studying in Dublin and Copenhagen from HS, so I should get a decent amount of traveling done this term, if I stumble across some money somehow. Until next time, I leave you with a parting shot:

(sunset over Amsterdam's canals on 1/1/08)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Almost 1/3 of the day done!

One third. Holds weight doesn't it, that fraction? Almost another whole third will be spent not even going to school, so it promises to be an excellent remaining 9/12ths.

Enough math though, I am (once again) long overdue on an update. Last time I talked to you folks I was...just getting back from the Califone show? Damn, seems like ages. Lots to talk about, not the least of which being what it's like to celebrate Thanksgiving in a foreign land.

The answer is extremely awesome, especially when the food is all homemade, the wine is ample and the company is very fun. Somehow, I had the fortune of being at class all day while poor MC and a couple of others slaved away all day in the kitchen, but I came home in time to help stir the mashed potatoes and eat/drink my fill. Food was delicious, the turkey didn't make anyone sick and we all felt a little more American than we had on 11/21. Not too bad for my first Thanksgiving away from home.

Not too long after this picture I was cruising along the M4 (or A2 or I90 or some British highway) on my way for a weekend of hiking in Wales. North Wales, to be exact, about 9 hours to the extreme Northwest of Canterbury, a scant 30 miles or so from the coast. I went with the same Mountaineering Club that brought me on their trip to the Peak District back in October - a trip I didn't think could be trumped. I was happily incorrect.
Not the world's most spectacular picture, but it illustrates fairly well the conditions during Saturday's hike. Not just raining at 9:30am, but pouring. A hearty five of us out of a group of 19 decided to brave the conditions, allowing for a more strenuous hike than would be normally undertaken. After, I was told it was an "8.5 out of 10" by one fellow hiker who has tackled the Alps, Patagonia and other exotic and intense locales.

Sustained 40mph winds with gusts of 60 at 3,000 feet over unsteady rocks was an adventure, let me tell you. The sheep were pissed at us, nature was apparently pissed at us and that made for easily the most difficult hiking of my life. In the best way possible mind you; I was with an experienced bunch and in no way felt in danger, but the scrambling over rocks and battling the wind and rain was tough work and I loved it. Can't wait to get back to VT and tackle some of the more difficult hikes there. Anyway, after a few worrisome moments of being lost without a trail to follow (!) we emerged to this:
As usual, the reward was mighty and this is only half the picture - somewhere down in that valley is the world's most satisfying pub, waiting for us with a roaring fire and pints galore. Too perfect, the British have perfected the act of drinking. It's hard not to rave about it without sounding too much like a stereotypical college kid, but there really is nothing like a beer after an 8 mile, death defying hike like that. Just fantastic.

Next day we decided on something a little lighter - 6 miles over a gently sloping hill, then across a ridge and back down again. Still, it was gorgeous and made me love Wales all the more.
That's me at the top.

So all in all, an excellent weekend in Wales. After that was a little downtime in terms of traveling, then last weekend I went back up to London to visit my old buddy from my Penfield High School Football days, Shawn "Sully" Sullivan. He's been studying outside Dublin all semester and I had plans to go meet him, but, well, living in England is pricey and I just couldn't afford it. Luckily he came to me for the weekend so I met up and spent the day with him last Sunday.

That's Sully in front of 10 Downing Street. He's a great dude and we had a fine time checking out pubs and museums - highly recommended if you're ever in town, the Churchill Museum and his preserved WWII underground cabinets. It's a little pricey (especially compared to the free British Museum, National Gallery, etc.). It was great to be able to wander around museums with a fellow history major for once. He had a plane to catch the next morning so I spent Monday wandering around alone which was fine by me. I went on a an early morning walk along the Thames and stopped by the Tate Modern art gallery for a little while.
That's the London skyline outside the Tate and, as it's slowly becoming my favorite city in the world, I figured it'd be a fitting way to wrap up my entry. After the art gallery I headed over to the Imperial War museum, found The Crown - a pub Sandy and I discovered on our last visit together that has a whole slew of Samuel Smith beers on tap (an amazing English brewery) and that I thought I'd never see again - and a great little bookshop before coming home. Another fantastic visit to a fantastic city. Did I mention I'm going back for a day trip tomorrow? Because I am and couldn't be happier about it.

This is MC's last week in the country, she being the only one in our flat to be staying a single semester, so we're heading back up to London to ice skate at the Somerset house, then going to the Shepherd Neame Brewery (the UK's oldest!) for a tour on Saturday and have a ton of activities planned the next seven days. After that, as it's the end of the semester, I have a month off and have a hitchhiking trip planned across Scotland, Christmas in London and New Year's in Amsterdam with my parents and Braelyn coming to visit all to look forward to, so it should be a great 30 days. I don't know when I'll get a chance to post again, but if I come back alive from Scotland on the 20th I'll try and update then.

Until then, keep reading.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Halloween, Hiking and Hilariously Good Music

Last one is a bit of a stretch but you know, alliteration is cool.

My building had a Halloween party back a few weeks ago and everyone at the University of Kent showed up. Was pretty decent fun until some drunk ass who lives downstairs threw one of our meticulously carved pumpkins out his window, breaking both it and the pumpkin and getting OUR flat (not his, mind you) in trouble - one more offense and we collectively pay 150 pounds. Lame.

That aside, it was a happening shindig...some pictures:
That's Sandy as Beast from X-Men and myself. You can't really see the towel or half-shaved face, but I was "Just getting out of the shower." I'm cheap and the costume cost me 0 pounds.
The girls as the Four Seasons - bet you can't guess which one is which! Note the flowers in the background which have been dead for a solid month.

Two weeks ago my friend Evan from UVM, who happens to be studying in Brighton for the semester, decided to pay a visit. I showed him around Canterbury - the cathedral, the pubs, some hiking, the pubs and...the pubs. In fact, the hike we took was from a book called "Pub Walks in Kent," so we really covered all the bases on his visit. The pic is Evan, Sandy and myself on our 8 mile pub walk from Wye, around through the King's Wood (a medieval royal hunting ground) through what was basically a cul-de-sac with a pub passing itself off as town and back to Wye, though we got a ride back there after a couple of pints, the last mile and a half not sounding all that appealing considering night was falling. Despite it being a strangely pub-less "pub walk" (only two!), it was gorgeous and we saw lots of great old churches and sheep. All in all, a successful day and visit, Evan leaving the next night after the obligatory Cathedral trip.

Before coming to England I was perusing the London concert lineup and saw that Thrill Jockey Records was having a 15th Anniversary party at Koko in Camden Town, North London. Considering Califone, a newfound favorite of mine, were playing (along with The Sea and Cake, another great band, The Fiery Furnaces, who I'm not so fond of, and a slew of bands I'd never heard before) I figured it would be worth the 15 pound price of admission and booked a hostel and bus ticket. Unfortunately, no one else shared my enthusiasm for relatively obscure psychedelic folk bands so I made the trip solo - which wasn't nearly so depressing as it sounds.

My dad gave me his "old" digital camera for my nine months in England and, low and behold, it can take video! I am now going to attempt to upload videos I took of the concert to this blog - cross your fingers, here goes...

Didn't work, I guess the video file type is different than those compatible with I might try and post them on YouTube and if that works I'll link them here. In the mean time, here is Horoscopic Amputation Honey, my favorite Califone song which they just so happened to open with:

Downloading from there should be self-explanatory, so enjoy.

This is Daniel Higgs and a woman who was playing violin with him for this show. I had tried getting into him before the show but failed and, while he wasn't BAD live, I still can't imagine throwing him on while doing pretty much anything. Basically it's just him singing hilariously overwrought poetic lyrics in a dramatic voice over banjo plucking with the occasional string backing. Kinda cool, but mostly just silly, especially considering how serious he took it. Still, not the worst opening band I've ever seen."Radians, from Vienna" as the bassist pointed out at the end of their set. I knew nothing of these guys going in and they blew me away with their really evil, noisy electro-jazz. Pretty out there and dark; imagine R2-D2 having a bad acid trip. Dudes could play too, the drummer especially. Not pictured between Daniel Higgs and Radians are The Zincs who were boring, sucky rock I didn't bother taking a picture of.

Arboretum, who have backed Will Oldham (folk singer you should totally listen to) and recorded with his older brother Paul, of whom I know nothing. They were slow, plodding rock but with some very awesome guitar solos. Also the lead singer kind of looked like David Grohl. I had heard a song of theirs before so expected pretty good things from them and they did not disappoint, though by the end I was just waiting for them to clear the stage to make room for...

Califone! Shown above playing "One" which is the 45 second feedback/keyboard piece that segues into HAH which I uploaded for you above. They were everything I hoped they would be, and was only disappointed by the length of their set, but considering there were eight bands playing, I expected that. Great setlist, great music, entirely worth the trip.

Finally came The Sea and Cake, who I like but don't love and were surprisingly rocking considering how mellow their studio stuff feels. All are accomplished musicians and the crowd was very into them so that helped me enjoy their set. The drummer played like mad, I was really impressed (I think he also plays in the amazing pseudo-jazz group Tortoise who blew my friends and I away at this year's Bonnaroo fest). I have a Sea and Cake album on my computer so here's a track by them for those interested ...

Trans Am came on next and weren't very good and since I didn't care much for the closing band/headliner (The Fiery Furnaces) I left a bit early, still having enjoy a solid six and a half hours of music. I spent the next day before my 5pm bus wandering around the City Museum of London and the Natural History Museum, which had dinosaurs:

Dinosaurs! Need I say more?

All in all, great weekend, and being alone was fairly liberating, being able to wander the museums at my own pace and do whatever it was I wanted to do. What can I say, I'm a loner by nature. People are fine, but going off by myself feels very comfortable. That said, I'm heading on another trip with the Mountaineering Club next weekend to Wales with a bunch of folks (after having to cancel a trip to visit an old football buddy in Ireland this weekend due to lack of funds...) so that should be fun/social, and you can expect the next post to be about that. Until then, should have my new article up, click B-Side and wander around there, my bi-weekly column is called "A-Broader View" (which is what this blog SHOULD be called, if someone else wasn't just as clever before me) and this week is one of my favorite pieces I've done, if I do say so myself.

Keep reading and, in this case, listening!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Via Italia

I suppose it's high time I posted what promises to be a rather lengthy entry - the very reason why I haven't posted it yet. "Ehh, it'll take a while...I'll just post tomorrow," I've been saying for the past week and, as an essay which was due today has been extended until next week, now is as good a time as any to undermine this whole laziness epidemic I seem to have caught myself up in.

Few things could be more post-worthy than my first international excursion since beginning this whole year long international excursion so, without further ado, I bring you Italian Vacation 2007!
This is one Mary-Catherine Caffrey, MC for short, my traveling partner for our little six day, seven night journey. To forestall any questions, no we are not dating (a fact my parents cannot seem to grab a hold of). In fact, I recently (like, within the past 72 hours) got back together with my girlfriend of a year and a half, after we both realized - ok, I realized - that being single kind of sucks and that we had too good a thing going to give it up. Also she's studying abroad in Ireland next semester which makes the whole long distance thing so, so much easier.

After the pub pictured above, directly across from Victoria Station, we headed to Stanstead airport to prepare for the journey to Bergamo Airport, just outside Milan. Our flight was rather inconveniently scheduled for early the next morning. Still, the price was right and a night sleeping on my bag in the terminal isn't the worst possible way to rest (as I was all too soon in finding out...).

Next morning brought us to a gorgeous flight over the Alps and an eventual arrival in Milan, where we met up with MC's friend from back home in Pennsylvania, Damian. Milan ended up having a fairly generic big city feel to it, partially because Damian's dorm was so far removed from the middle of the city and the huge amounts of graffiti all over the buildings - though notably not present on the city's most awe inspiring attraction, The Duomo:

This is a big church. Started in the 14th century, it wasn't completed until the 19th when Napoleon, on his Magical Mystery Tour of Europe, demanded it be finished in 1805. Seven years later, and you have the building you see today. Obviously work is never entirely finished, especially in a city with such high pollution levels as Milan (the moon was shrouded in a mysterious mist every night), hence the unsightly billboards flanking the entrance. That aside, The Duomo was unbelievable from the inside, outside and the top... (I don't know why the text looks different here, but I also have no idea how to change it, so...ignore it)

Post-Duomo, Damian showed us around for a bit, took us to a museum, gave us our first gelattos (which are just...woah) and brought us out to pizza that night. The next day we already had planned as a day long excursion North to within three miles of the Swiss border, to Lake Como. A brief train ride later, and we were there.Lake Como was a gorgeous lakeside paradise, not too touristy but with enough to do to keep six twenty year olds occupied for a day. It was decently brisk, being at the foot of the Alps and all, but I fared better than some of the folks I was with, being a hearty Rochesterian/adopted Vermonter. We wandered around the city for a while, stopped at a candy tent in an outdoor market and eventually settled on a hike up the mountain you see at the right of the above picture for the day's activity. There was also a tram that went to the top, but where's the fun in that? We began the climb up the basically unmarked path, became lost, almost mauled by a dog, climbed about 10,000 stairs, wandered along a street between some random Villas and, somehow, emerged at the top. It was worth the hike.
That's me at the top. I guess you can't really see them, but the Alps rose beautifully behind those hills and the town spread out along the lake in front of us like a chessboard. It was awesome.

We took the tram back down, being beat and hungry and wanting to catch a train back to Milan before six. However, we stepped off the train and right into the middle of, of all things, a cycle race. Apparently a pretty major one too, and it was just reaching the climax, with the finish line exactly where we were standing. Naturally, we hung around to watch the end and who was to win but a fellow Damian, an Italian native Damiano Cunego. That's him winning - don't ask me how I took that picture, I don't even know.

That night we went out for a little bit to experience Milan's nightlife, but were pretty beat from the day's exertions. I, however, found a fellow Red Sox fan and, considering they were in the middle of a harrowing series with Cleveland, we watched them win on his computer late into the night.

We had heard that the A.C. Milan football (soccer to we Americans) team was playing a home game against the Italian equivalent of the Arizona Cardinals and that the game would most definitely not sell out, so we headed to the stadium and bought the second cheapest available tickets (and some souvenirs).

After being assured that this was one David and Goliath match-up the giant could not lose, the old adage held true and A.C. Milan just couldn't get an offense going, losing 1-0 much to our disappointment. Still, the atmosphere was pretty electric with everyone in the 60% full stadium chanting and cheering the whole time and I got a sweet new knit hat out of the trip, so by all means not a lost afternoon, despite the upset. From the left is Damian, myself and Chris, Damian's friend from Boston College who happened to be visiting the same weekend we were.

Chris left the next day and Damian had class, so MC and I took it upon ourselves to trek North again, this time to the Ski haven of Torino (or Turin, the site of the 2006 Winter Olympics). Despite literally every sight in the city being closed on Monday, we had a fantastic time, partially because we took a "chocolate tour" of a city known for its spectacular chocolates. This store to the right, "Stratta," was like something out of Willy Wonka, insanely ornate and everything was unbelievably delicious.

And that was the end of our stay in Milan. The next day we took a train through Tuscany and into Florence, which despite taking itself VERY seriously (and not without good reason) completely floored me and won me over. We did it all over two days...the Duomo (pretty much every city in Italy has a Duomo), the Uffizi Gallery, Acadamia (home of Michaelangelo's David)...I'm just going to post a few pictures and not give you a narrative, the 36 hours we spent there were just way too packed to recall and I have stuff to do anyway:

The Duomo - the third largest domed church in the world, I believe, behind St. Peter's in the Vatican and St. Paul's in London.

Ponte Vecchio - an ancient bridge over the River Arno lined with the most expensive jewelry stores I've ever seen. I felt like I was spending money just looking in the windows (I probably was). Incredibly, this is the only bridge to survive WWII in the city.

This is a cafe where we met up with two of MC's very, very awesome friends from school and spent the evening drinking wine and talking about how insanely cool it was to actually be in Italy. Apparently, this cafe is the birthplace of Italian fascism - I have nothing but their word to back that up, but I like the idea so I'll go with it.

Inside of the Duomo's dome depicting scenes from the apocalypse (though it's sort of hard to tell from here). This place was huge and there is no way for a picture to really capture the scope of it.

You aren't supposed to take pictures inside the various incredible museums in Florence, but I figured, "when is the next time I'll be in Italy?" so I simply had to snap a discreet, James Bond style shot of the David, which is even more inspiring in person than you imagine. MC and I also visited the renown Uffizi gallery, but I didn't take any worthwhile pictures there before being yelled at (though I swear I just didn't see the signs in that gallery!).

To cap off our time in Firenze, MC and I decided to climb the heights across the Arno to the Piazza del Michaelangelo and it was entirely worth slogging through rain and dodging cars to get there.

It was at this point that my camera, which had served me faithfully through a full six days of constant use, finally died. Still, I snapped the above picture and that's what really mattered.

After the climb we grabbed dinner and turned in early, entirely beat from the most tiring day and a half in recent memory. Next day had us take a train to Bologna where it was rainy and cold. MC and I wandered around for a while, but by now we were ready to call it a week and head back to Canterbury, so we jumped on the bus to the airport to wait for our 10pm flight back to London. It was here where the real odyssey began.

Using ultra-cheap airline Ryanair means flying into and out of lesser used airports, such as London Stanstead and Bologna Foli. We didn't quite realize that Bologna was large enough to HAVE two airports, so we took the first airport shuttle we found, only to realize that there was no Ryanair terminal after we arrived. Thankfully we had allowed ourselves plenty of time to get back to the train station and board an overbooked, hot, standing room only train for the hour ride to Foli. There we waited around, for a while and finally boarded our plane to Stanstead, where we disembarked and rode for an hour to London Victoria. Our plan, considering our bus wasn't until 7am and it was currently 2am, was to sleep inside (key being INside) the station for five hours before boarding. Unfortunately and unforseeably, Victoria Station closes down at night, leaving us stranded and with only a wide open bus garage area for shelter. I laid out a towel, put on as many warm clothes as possible and slept in the chill, but poor MC just couldn't rest and spent a pretty miserable five hours in the London chill.

We eventually did make it back to England and, despite exhaustion and the brutal final 24 hours, we had nothing but positive reports from our trip. For starters, I now know where I want to go for my honeymoon ( listening Braelyn?) and can look down my nose with reason at all American Italian food! (kidding!)

An incredible trip. If the rest of my excursions from England are up to this high standard, I will be poor and gushing with stories to tell come June.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

An eventful week

I suppose the beginning is the best place for one to...begin.

Unless you're either living under a rock or over the age of 40, you know by now that Radiohead released a new album and did so in a fiendishly sly, backward allowing the fans to pay whatever they want for it, including nothing, including 99 pounds, and download the album off their website. We fans waited almost five years for last Wednesday, and it arrived early, gray and with speakers blaring. I decided to take Thom and company on my morning run and, between the excellent countryside and even better music, I was in no way disappointed. Well played boys, well played. to find out what all the kids are talking about.

On a slightly (and only slightly) more important note, I've also made the decision to flip my majors and minor to history and English, respectively (from vice versa). This whole idea dates back to my London trip, where I was blown away by the British Museum, realized that history is really what I've always been interested in and mulled it over in St. James Park for a while, deciding that I couldn't see myself working at a newspaper for the rest of my life. I'm in the process of figuring out what this will entail, and considering I'm in England on an English major scholarship, it may be a bit complicated, but I'm optimistic it'll work out in the end - the real issue looks to be gaining admission to UVM's historic preservation graduate program, which is what I'm gunning for as the next step.

Also, I've taken up climbing. Sandy (my ex-roommate and friend from UVM who is in C-bury with me) informed me of UKC's excellent Mountaineering Club which, for a small fee, takes members to national parks around the island for climbing and hiking expeditions. After a quick training session last Monday, we all jumped on a minibus Friday evening for the 6 hour drive up to the Peak District National Park smack in the middle of England.

Apparently Canterbury has some of the nicest weather in the islands, because while it was sunny and gorgeous down south all weekend, we had nonstop misty rain. I was fine with it - what a better way to add a perfectly English atmosphere to a hiking trip? - but it made rock climbing unwise. Still, an 8 mile hike through what you're about to see made Saturday one of the better days so far since my arrival.

I tried posting more pictures, but seems to be crapping out on me here, so that'll have to do. But yeah, it was gorgeous.

Sunday was again to wet to climb up anything, but not, apparently, to climb down, and I was taught the fine art of "abseiling" (that's repelling, to you Yanks).
Yeah, that's me repelling down a 100 foot bridge over a river. Fun and surprisingly easy, I highly recommend it.

Besides all that, I wrote my second bi-weekly column for the Cynic, as well as a last minute Radiohead review, so watch for my name all over the place. I'm heading to Italy on Thursday, so I have to write an essay beforehand considering I won't feel like doing it in the middle of Milan and I'll post with pictures as soon as I get back. Until then, keep in touch and keep reading!