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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And That's How Rome Was Left in a Day

5 AM  shuttle to Fiumincio airport in Rome +
8:55 AM flight to Amsterdam +
12:40 PM flight to Chicago +
3 hour bus ride to Madison +
7:20 PM bus back to apartment =
14 hours of travel time and one woozy lady.

On the Amsterdam airplane, I got seated to two Wisconsinites, a retired school librarian from Two Rivers and a lady whose daughter also worked for Forest Products Lab, like I do. It's a small world after all.

Italian internet was indeed difficult and pricey to procure. Both hostels charged 2 euros for 30 minutes of internet, so that didn't allow for much blogging time. Italy was a blast, though, and it was a busy and exciting end to my study abroad trip in London. Keep checking back for updates on what it was like. In four days, I saw the Italian cities of Sorrento, the Isle of Capri, the Amalfi Coast, Ravello, and Rome!

I have just today to rest up and get life back in order, and then I go back to work tomorrow.  It will be fantastic to see Daniel again this weekend, too. This trip is one of the best things I've ever done, and I regret nothing. :)

For my last multimedia project:
Rosie Rex's London Photobook

And two teaser photos:


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The End of London

It's the final day of my official study abroad trip, and  I'm really depressed about leaving. My classmates are at that point where missing home is getting the better of them. While I've been missing people back home more and more, I've also become completely accustomed to this new life. I had absolutely no idea I'd get so attached to London after only three weeks. How do my friends who have studied abroad for three months or a year handle leaving? Having every day bring something new is so attractive.

The three weeks haven't gone fast or slowly, but not like normal life, either. More like a time warp? A discovery of a British parallel life that I've been meant to live all along? Studying abroad in England has been a strong desire for years, and now...it's done. People keep saying I'll return someday, but financially, I know it will be a long time from now. I'm twenty-four and a pretty capable traveler, no house, no husband, no children, but no full-time job or big savings account, either. I just want to go and go and go and not stop.

So, I'm heading to Italy tomorrow on an Italian adventure that was on special at the travel agency when I booked my trip. I'll land in the Rome Fiumicino airport at 7:40 pm tomorrow, take a shuttle to the hostel, and then for three days, I'll see Pompeii, Sorrento, Amalfi, the Isle of Capri, and ride around southern Italy with 39 people, mostly Australians. Talking about this trip, only a day away, still sounds like an elaborate fantasy to my ears, but I'm going.

Not sure how much Italian internet access I'll get, but I'll post about it when I arrive home next week, on Tuesday or Wednesday. So dear reader, check back soon. And thank you immensely for reading about London. As class assignments go, this blog has been one of my favorite, most public things I've ever done. Cheers!

Multimedia Project

For my final multimedia project for this class, I created an Animoto video of my Sunday in Montmartre, Paris. Big thanks to my lovely roomie, Aubrey, for encouraging me to try out Animoto. It's a very easy program to use.




The music is Coquetry by McKenzie Stubbert, which is included with Animoto.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hampton Court and Heading Towards the End...

Today is the day that I finally felt our group's usual energy fizzle out. I've been wondering when that was coming. With several of our group members ill, and one having to go to the hospital today (feel better, Cassie!), we're worn out. While I don't mind walking around all day, exhaustion is catching up with me. Lately I've been only getting six or less hours of sleep at night, and if I have no protein at breakfast, I have absolutely no energy for a full day of touring, photographing, and learning. With a sunburn, trying to wrap up classwork, trying to pack and plan for my Italy trip on Thursday, this beautiful trip is speeding toward its conclusion. I'm so sad about it. Just give me a quiet weekend to catch up, and I could continue this lifestyle for months and months.


Today's tour was for Hampton Court, which is where the infamous Henry VIII lived, as well as Queen Mary, William III, and several other kings and queens. I toured young King Henry's and William III's apartments as well as the Wilderness gardens. There were several other apartments and gardens, but I only had energy enough for those few things. The gardens were almost as lovely as Versailles's.




Hampton Court loans out these sweet tunics for you to wear around the grounds. I was the only one in my group to actually wear one longer than the photo op. Goes well with dresses!

Hyde Park and Tea Time

After coming in late from Paris the night before, it was great to have a day to simply enjoy. Hyde Park is beautiful! We visited the Princess Diana Memorial Playground (open to adults only before 10 am, then the children show up), strolled through the flower walk, went to the Diana, Princess of Wales Fountain, which is more like a lazy river for children and the public to enjoy, visited the Peter Pan statue in tribute to its author, J.M. Barrie, and finally ended up at Kensington Palace for high tea. Today I was the group photographer, so I took a shot of all of us at tea. It was delicious-four crustless sandwiches like salmon, cucumber, and ham, a sultana scone, chocolate cupcake, an apricot tart, English tea, and water with lemon.

Hyde Park reminded me a lot of my Grandma and Grandpa Schmidt, who kept two swans and owned a paddleboat for their small pond. Grandma would have loved Hyde Park, I am sure. I really missed her today. Maybe my grandpa still has the paddleboat somewhere in the shed or the gazebo.

 





Montmartre and Amelie's Cafe: the Paris Weekend (3)

On Sunday, I finally went to a section of Paris that I've always dreamed about going to, even more so than the Palace of Versailles, and that's Montmartre, where the film Amelie was set. In the movie, Amelie waits tables at Cafe des Deux Moulins (Two Windmills), and it's a must-see for fans of the movie. My friend Tiffanie and I really enjoyed our Sunday lunch there. The cafe looks very similar to how it looked in the film, except that there's no tobacco (tabac) counter and the restaurant is smaller. Yet the cafe embraces its Amelie fame, with posters, menus, pictures, and placemats bearing Audrey Tatou's face. It's not overwhelming, though. The other tables seemed to be full of tourists taking pictures, too, but it'd be a nice place for a regular to have lunch or a drink.
Outside the cafe

Close-up of the portrait they have of her.
You get a beautiful placemat! I bought a clean one for a souvenir.






The food was simple and good. I had some baked chicken, chips, mixed greens, an Orangina, and the namesake creme brulee. My friend had the breakfast brunch with eggs, jacket potato, amazing sausage, bacon, and a creme brulee as well. The little French diner played everything from the White Stripes's "Seven Nation Army" to Aretha Franklin's "Respect." I confess that I hoped it'd be Yann Tiersen instead.

The rest of the day, we walked around Montmartre, browsing the shops and sitting outside when we could. We found used bookstores, clothing stores, a store that sold nothing but angel merchandise, a carousel, nice gift shops, fruit stands, and bakeries. I bought a bin of red currants and dipped them into my lemon tart. Fantastic. If you know anything about Montmartre, you know that I'm skipping over the porn shops and signs advertising erotic dancers. But hey, we were there on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Everything looks more innocent in the sunlight.






Keeping in part with our nap in front of the Eiffel Tower the previous day, Tiffanie and I relaxed on some park benches and dozed on the gorgeous Sunday afternoon. It was a relaxing day, and it was grand. I know I should have gone to the cathedral, the museums, and other big landmarks, but really, I was just happy eating a citron tart in the sun and finding a cafe with significance to me. I love landmarks, but I've been feeling overwhelmed lately.

We returned back to London on the Eurostar at 10:43, and that was that.

My favorite foods from this weekend:
Tarts (apple, lemon, pear, strawberry)
Pan aux raisin
Berry panna cotta
Italian pasta with tomatoes, chilis, and basil
Limoncello ice cream
Six escargot
Three crepes (Nutella and red currant jam, a chantilly with Nutella, banana, and whipped cream, and sugar)
Tuna and hard-boiled egg sandwich

French words I kept running into:
Chantilly-whipped cream
Sortie-exit
Jambon-ham
Pomme-apple
Glaces-sweets
Citron-lemon
Pamplemousse-grapefruit
Moulin-windmill
Fromage-cheese (I said it while taking photos)
Jardin-garden
Librairie-bookstore

Versailles and the Eiffel Tower at Midnight: the Paris Weekend (2)

Saturday in Paris brought Versailles, which was two metro rides and a 25 minute RER train ride away from my hotel. Since seeing Sofia Coppola's lush renedition of Marie Antoinette's life in Marie Antoinette, I've always wanted to see the palace. After we got off the RER, our group just followed all the tourists from the train station to the golden gates.

And tourists there were. Unsurprisingly, Versailles is crowded with tourists on a summer morning on Saturday. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't go, though. You should just learn to politely push.
Your first view upon Versailles.

These tourists I mentioned. We bought tickets ahead of time, but had to wait in an enormous line.

The golden gates.

The Hall of Mirrors. Very famous and very, very beautiful.

The Queen's bedchambers. This was by far the most popular room, but the detail was exquisite. So much gold.

For some reason, my friend and I weren't able to buy a 1-day passport, so we weren't able to personally tour the famous gardens. However, we could view them from the palace windows.


Exploring palaces is my thing, even if they are totally unrealistic living spaces. There were several paintings at Versailles that measure 600 square feet. My apartment, with two people in it, is about 515 square feet. I could live in a painting.

 After touring the palace, the 15 euros pretty well worth it, Tiffanie and I picnicked outside. We sat atop a small stone pillar, eating ham baguettes, pink lemonade, and fruit tarts. Despite the bees (rampant in Paris), it was a perfect Saturday afternoon.

After a great dinner at a little Italian restaurant near our hotel, I convinced some friends to go visit the Eiffel Tower after dark. Getting off at the Trocadero metro stop gave us such an excellent view of the tower at 11:30 pm. It was the most romantic sight I've ever seen. Pictures do no justice; one day you just must go and see for yourself. Then, get in line right before the tower closes at midnight, pay your 8 euros (6,60 if you're under 25), go to the second floor (or the top if it's still open), and just watch the two million Parisians finish their days, as couples around you over-enthusiastically kiss and get proposed to. There is absolutely nothing else I'd rather be doing on a Saturday night. It did make me miss Daniel a lot, though. Yeah.





Then, ride the carousel with your friends and eat crepes and cotton candy at 12:30 am, and you'll have just had the most beautiful day of your life. I'm over-romanticizing, but I couldn't care less. Paris is magical.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Ate Escargot, and I Liked It: the Paris Weekend (1)

Four little words, one beautiful phrase: A weekend in Paris.

All I can say is, I'm thankful I've been to Paris before, in November 2008, because this weekend was a crazy whirlwind of trains, metro stations, lines, food, and maps. In short, it's a good thing I've been to Paris already. There was so much I saw, but still, I didn't see everything. Yeah, traveling is like that.


Our itinerary for Friday was to take the 5:25 AM Eurostar to Paris to see the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, a city tour of Paris on a hop-on, hop-off bus (aka "enormous tourist bus"), a boat cruise on the Seine, seeing Notre Dame, and dinner. We had two short hours for the Louvre, took a group photo in front of the tower, stayed on the bus for an hour or so, and had peach champagne on the Seine ride. Touring Notre Dame didn't happen due to our dinner reservation. The line was tremendous, anyway.

My absolute favorite part of the whirlwind Friday was our dinner. It was in a interesting little area of Paris, near a bunch of comic shops and bakeries selling enormous pieces of meringue, and the experience was absolutely fantastic. The meal had already been paid for from the tuition bill, so we had more options on what to order. I had escargot, chicken in wine sauce, roasted potatoes, broccoli, baguettes, apple tart, and the tastiest champagne I've ever had. I don't even like champagne, but the rosé changed my mind. Escargot was better than the first time I tried it. Also, I've recently learned to appreciate mussels, and the two taste similar. Garlic butter always helps.




What made this meal so interesting were the guitarist and accordion players who came around, waggled their eyebrows at you, made sounds, snuck up on you, and played everything from French music to La Bamba. They were a combination of French charm and creeptastic.  However, they turned the atmosphere of the cozy restaurant turned into a party, with music, singing, clapping, dancing and the rest of the restaurants' patrons smiling and enjoying themselves. As the wine flowed, our group of students began to enjoy themselves a little too much...but everyone made it to our hotel, the Campanille near the Place de la Bastille, safely. A nice hotel, by the way. 95 euros a night for two twin beds, nice bathroom, and it was a typical cute European room, everything a little smaller. My roommate Angela was sick with a cold, so she appreciated the tea maker. I just really liked having a non-lumpy bed.

Saturday-Monday posts coming right up.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Globe and Platform 9 3/4




Well, the Globe was excellent. The costuming was exquisite, the actors passionate, and the audience respectful. Our seats had restricted views, but I was just happy to have a place to sit, as the center of the Globe is standing room only. Then we did some night photography along the Thames. Using my camera, along with some coaxing and a tripod, I finally got night pictures that weren't hideously blurry.

Platform 9 3/4 was all right, but since Kings Cross is doing renovations, it was a little platform of its own outside the station. Kind of a disappointing setting, but since this trip keeps having HP references, may as well visit the most obvious of them all.

My class is taking a weekend trip to Paris starting at 4:30 am tomorrow! We're going to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre in one day, and then I have the weekend free for Versailles and hopefully some unscheduled fun. :) I'll be back on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Globe Theater and Digital Story Project

Today I've spent most of the morning working on my digital story project, which is below. Our group is planning to go to the Globe Theater tonight to see Anne Boleyn and take some nighttime photography along the Thames. It'll be great to have a night out!

Sorry about the black borders in this. I went back and tried to fix them numerous times in PhotoStory, but when I uploaded the file to YouTube, they came back. This class is actually making me wish I had a Mac for my media projects.



Citations


Schmidt, C. (Director, producer, editor). (2011). Dear Future London Multimedia Student [Web]. Available from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xm3ySsrFb-0


Music, in Order of Appearance


Byrne, David (Lyricist). (1981). Once in a lifetime [Recorded by Talking Heads]. On Remain in Light [Medium of recording: CD] New York: Sire Records.


Welch, Florence (Lyricist). (2008). Dog Days Are Over [Recorded by Florence and the Machine]. On Lungs [Medium of recording: CD] London: Moshi Moshi.


Reed, Lou (Lyricist). (1972). Walk on the Wild Side [Recorded by Lou Reed]. On Transformer [Medium of recording: CD] New York: RCA.


Torrini, Emiliana (Lyricist). (1999). Unemployed in Summertime. On Love in the Time of Science [Medium of recording: CD] London: Virgin.


Resnick, Arthur (Lyricist). (1968). Yummy Yummy Yummy [Recorded by Ohio Express]. On Ohio Express [Medium of recording: CD] New York: Buddha Records.


Blegvad, Peter (Lyricist). (1990). Blue Flower [Recorded by Mazzy Star]. On She Hangs Brightly [Medium of recording: CD] New York: Capitol.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Scottish Comedian-Turned Tour Guides and Giant Rocks

Just when I think our Blue Badge tour guides can't get any more fun and entertaining, we get another one that exceeds expectations. His name was Sean Simpson, a Scottish guide. Voice of Craig Kilbourne, humor of a deadpan Jim Gaffigan. He was very interested in our group's photo mascots and made hilarious comments on the passersby and animals we passed on our two-hour trip to Stonehenge. I wanted to beg him to talk to us more; he was that entertaining.

Stonehenge! It's located in gorgeous, gently rolling British countryside. Despite the groups of tourists roped off in a loop around the mighty stones, it's fairly quiet and peaceful. A perfect place for a picnic. There were the usual gift shops selling stone and sheep related merchandise, as there's a huge pasture of sheep across the road from Stonehenge. The experience of walking around Stonehenge was pretty ordinary, but I enjoyed wondering how the heck those stones were moved across the country from Wales. They say it was a burial site, perhaps.

After visiting a lovely cathedral in the nearby town of Salisbury (which happens to house the Magna Carta, by the way), I went to the Ye Olde Ale House with Beth, Kalyca, and Tiffanie and had my first Pimm's cocktail. Delicious. I've asked Daniel to check and see if they sell it in the states. After some shopping at the Salisbury market, in which I bought a punnet of Belgium strawberries, a used Bill Bryson book, and a beach towel for Italy, the delightful Sean and my group enjoyed naps on the coach bus home. A peaceful touring day. Oxford may have been more exciting, but I love Salisbury now too. And nope, didn't see the namesake steak on any menus.

Today's photo assignment was to create a five-picture story. Mine involves Rosie Rex. She's training for the 2012 Olympics, see, and she thought it'd be a good idea to scale Stonehenge for exercise like King Kong.






The Museum of London, St. Paul's, and Becoming One with the Steps

The Museum of London is a great, free, smaller museum detailing the history of London from the beginning of time to the present. They had a decent section about the black plague, which always grabs my attention. Over half the population of London died in 1348, and the plague continued to haunt London off and on for hundreds of years. Scientists speculate if it was caused by fleas on rats or a virus, but either way, it makes me wonder about how much the world lost due to the plague-brilliant people, criminals, and all the generations in between.

St. Paul's Cathedral is a spectacular feat of architecture and beauty. Imagine a cathedral the size of a state capitol building, with a 364 foot tall dome, beautifully detailed mosaics sprawling across the ceilings, paintings, and memorials everywhere. Alexander Fleming, the physician who discovered penicillin, is buried at this cathedral, as well as Christopher Wren, who designed something like 50 cathedrals around England. I originally thought St. Paul's was a Catholic church, but it is really affiliated with the Church of England.

After the tour, I decided to climb the 528 steps through the three domes of the cathedral, all the way to the top. Now that I know what climbing up 528 steps feels like, I can tell you that it's dizzying, it's a feat of endurance, but it also is fairly manageable if you turn your brain off and just keep going, steadily. Bring water. The steps between the Whispering Gallery and the Stone Gallery were the most exhausting. The staircase to the Golden Gallery felt shorter, but there is an open, black metal spiral staircase that will make you clutch the rails. If you survive, you'll be treated to the most gorgeous view of London ever. Climbing the St. Paul's Cathedral Dome is pretty much London's version of the Eiffel Tower. It's worth it.



Climbing down all 528 steps at once will probably make your head spin. At one point, I swear I ceased to be climbing down the stairs; the stairs were rushing me down. Still, worth it.

The next project for my class is a video. I made one about Harrods, the most elaborate and luxurious department store I've ever laid eyes on. A majority of my project decided to fail tonight, so this is what I've rebuilt in a few hours. The best part was choosing the music. Siouxsie and the Banshees and Frank Sinatra; excellent.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Brighton

While my classmates were going to plays and working on their videos, I decided to pay a visit to Brighton to visit a long-time friend, Ellie! We met up at the train station at noon, and it was so lovely to see her, finally. Ever since I decided to study abroad in London in October, we've been planning to meet up with each other. Brighton is described as England's San Francisco, and it really did echo what I saw there in January: lots of seafood, quirky independent shops, rainbows everywhere, tacky, touristy places near the sea, and the overall relaxed atmosphere and scenery. Brighton is nowhere nearly as hilly, however.

We had Yo Sushi for lunch and wandered around clothing and record shops. The charity (thrift) shops are excellent here. They're selective about their merchandise, more careful about displays, and are less crowded with stuff. Josh Homme's album The Desert Sessions 9 and 10 for £1.99? A Bill Bryson book for a pound? Yes, please. Ellie suggested that we go to Brighton Pier, which reminded me a lot of Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, except less clam chowder, more merry-go-rounds. As well as tarot card readers and absurdly aggressive seagulls who tried to grab Ellie's ice cream.
































Brighton's Pier has a pebbly beach that becomes comfortable once you settle down into the stones. I interrupted a lady on the beach (who was about to drink out of a flask, oops) so we could get a picture together.













What I loved and appreciated most about Ellie is that she was willing to discuss my seemingly endless questions and comments about British culture. It was fantastic to have lots of casual conversation with someone from here! Here is a small sampling of what we discussed:
  • The British branches of government (conservative, liberal Democrat, and Labour) 
  •  Where's Waldo? books are actually called Where's Wally? here
  • Our oddly-named hometowns of Leighton Buzzard and Kaukauna. Never before has the word "Kaukauna" been pronounced so eloquently...I love British accents.
  • The small white soft serve ice cream cones my classmates enjoyed near the London Eye are called Mr. Whippies or 99p cones. They come with a delicious chocolate flake.
  • The differences between the US and the UK health care systems, drinking and smoking ages, and driving systems.
  • Our shared love of documentaries and my surprise that England lacks Hulu, Pandora, or Netflix. The horror. ;) At least Grooveshark still works. Ellie did recommend BBC iPlayer, which I'll have to investigate further.

    As if all of that wasn't enough, Ellie even bought Rosie Rex and me our very first English cup of tea. Did I mention how much I love this woman? Because I do. Although every day of my trip has been unforgettable, this day trip to Brighton was probably my favorite day in England. Thanks, Ellie. (P.S. Bubble and squeak is the fried vegetables left over from roast dinners, like potato, cabbage, carrots, etc. Remember that sign in the cafe?)

    Even if you don't have your own tour guide, Brighton is worth a visit. Make sure you get ice cream on the pier and browse the shops in the Lanes.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Mummies, the British Museum, and PJ Harvey

An unstructured day at last! After traveling all day in Oxford, I was happy to sleep in. The only events on the schedule were touring the British Museum and finishing up my podcast that's due today.

The British Museum is fantastic because it's free so I got to wander around the museum at my own pace, not worrying about getting my money's worth, nobody stopped me from taking flash photography, and it has the Rosetta Stone and ancient Egyptian artifacts and mummies. This one broke my heart, though:













You can't really see his face at this angle because of his hand, but the look of anguish on his face was horrible. The description didn't say what he died of, but the sands protected the body from complete decay. There were a lot of other Egyptian artifacts and mummies, but I spent a lot of my time in the Chinese jade section, the Turkish jewelry and dishes, as well as checking out the Rosetta Stone. The British Museum is world-class and free; it's a treasure and if you enjoy museums, you should certainly visit.

Tomorrow is Brighton! And then the rest of the weekend will be spent working on my video for class due Monday. Fun.

           PJ Harvey at a 2009 concert at the Minnesota Zoo.
A.k.a.: the best night of my life.
Here's my podcast for class. It's basically an overview PJ Harvey's latest album, Let England Shake, because it's something I really love and it was fun to research and talk about. Learning how to use Audacity tonight was a little rough, but I got it in the end, I think.



Breihan, Tom, Initials. (2010, December 2). Pj harvey: written on the forehead. Pitchfork, Retrieved from http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/12059-written-on-the-forehead/ 

Harvey, PJ. (Artist). (2010). Pj Harvey let England shake Andrew Marr show 18th april 2010. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64C6Ih4QlrE 

Harvey, PJ (Performer). (2011). The Words That Maketh Murder [Recorded by PJ Harvey]. On Let England Shake [Medium of recording: CD] Santa Monica, CA: Vagrant Records. (2011)  

Harvey, PJ (Performer). (2011). The Glorious Land [Recorded by PJ Harvey]. On Let England Shake [Medium of recording: CD] Santa Monica, CA: Vagrant Records. (2011) 

Harvey, PJ (Performer). (2011). Written on the Forehead [Recorded by PJ Harvey]. On Let England Shake [Medium of recording: CD] Santa Monica, CA: Vagrant Records. (2011) 


McCormick, Neil, Initials. (2011, July 20). Pj harvey: masterpiece of the first rock-and-roll war artist. The Telegraph, Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/rockandpopfeatures/8650329/P.J-Harvey-Masterpiece-of-the-first-rock-and-roll-war-artist.html 

Oxford: Rose Lemonades and Harry Potter are Everywhere

It's been one week since I arrived in London. Today was my first visit out of London to Oxford. This was great because 1.) I adore trains and 2.) Oxford is the ultimate university town (and I adore university towns). This trip was particularly relevant because I had a group project in my Organization of Information course last fall about the Oxford Libraries. To the Bodelian Library we went.

Sign for Bodleian Library.
Unfortunately, our charming Hungarian tour guide didn't know much about the cataloging system of the books that are kept in Duke Humfrey's Reading Room. What I did learn is that the books were originally chained to the wall, spine facing in, with the pages facing outwards with a printed number on them. Accession numbers, that is. Now the chains on the books are gone, but if you try to remove a book from the shelf, an alarm will go off! How they managed to alarm the books and shelving in such a manner, I'm not sure. The Duke Humfrey library is also where they filmed the library scenes in Harry Potter.

Christ Church, which is a very prestigious college and chapel, turned up more HP references. Our rather wry, distinguished tour guide in a bowler hat showed us the places around the grounds where Chris Columbus and his crew filmed the first Harry Potter movie, the dining hall that inspired the film, places where Professor McGonagall stood, and so on. As usual, the Brits know how to make their historical tours completely fascinating and funny.
Radcliffe Camera, University of Oxford. Undergrad reading rooms inside.



Bowler-hat tour guide at Christ Church. Can this hat trend be adopted further?























A staircase in Christ Church that was filmed in Harry Potter.



Inspiration for HP dining hall, Christ Church.
















This summer, I've had this thing where I make a new flavor of homemade lemonade every week: mixed berry, mojito, strawberry, blueberry peach. But tonight in the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford, I found the new lemonade love of my life, Fentiman's rose lemonade.  Made with ginger and rose essential oils, it was so refreshing. Joey let me try some of his Pimm's cocktail, too, and that was equally as delicious. Whoever said that British food is lacking lied, because everything I put in my mouth here tastes better and fresher than the US version. Even small things like yogurt, Sprite, and jam taste better. I'm not even trying that hard to have a foodie experience. Most days I buy the cheapest item on the menu or the sale items at the grocery store, and each day I'm surprised by how good things taste. Way to go, modern-day British food system. My bowler hat is tipped to you.

Rosie Rex loves her namesake lemonade.