Friday, April 30, 2010

Richie finally made it to London!

Hooray! The men's flat is now complete because Richie finally got here!! We want him to move into our room, but we can't leave Hugh by himself so it's cool.

Anyways we are gonna go to see "bash:latter-day plays" tomorrow night so Heidi, Andrea, Richie and I went to go buy tickets up at the theater in Camden borough. We had to do 3 tube transfers to get there and it was like 2 blocks off the beaten path. It's called the "Theatro Technis" and it essentially looks like a converted house.
So we show up and can't find a box office so we ring the doorbell and a nice old man with a French accent calls down through the intercom and asks "What do you want?" It was totally a Monty Python moment and I was afraid he would taunt us :p So anyways we told him that we wanted 6 tickets for tomorrow night. He asked for our name and Heidi told him, but he didn't understand so he was like "Come inside. I'll come down." So we wander into this man's study/office/box office(?) and down comes this 5 foot tall, French senior citizen who looked remarkably like Sigmund Freud. Anyways, we told him how many we needed and had a pleasant yet short conversation and went on our way. It was a fun adventure.

We then embarked on another HUGE tube trip to the Rose Theater in Kingston. This required us to essentially cross all of London yet again and then getting on a bus on the edge of zone 2 that took us another 40 minutes into Kingston. It was SUCH a long trip on public transport.
We were all tired (esp Richie) and started to get a bit loopy by the time we arrived at the theater. The Rose is a GORGEOUS modern theater in the middle of this antiquated borough of southern London. It's a contemporary interpretation of the old Rose Theater of Shakespeare's time. We were all groundlings for this performance, but instead of having to stand we had to sit on the hard ground for 90 minutes.
We saw "11 & 12" by Peter Brook. It was a really cool production that has to do with religious and ethnic tolerance and questioning why human beings are violent towards each other because of these trivial, subjective things. It was a really powerful play, but unfortunately I couldn't enjoy it as much as I could because I was so incredibly uncomfortable on the floor. But it was truly a brilliant piece.

We finally got home after the show and after about 20 minutes in the flat the fire alarm went off!! No joke! We had to all evacuate, so I grabbed my keys and then remembered Richie was in the bath tub, so I made him get out and get dressed and come outside with us.
He was completely and utterly unpleased to say the least. So we puttered around for 20 minutes outside, in the rain, until one of the on duty managers showed up on a bicycle. Clearly the best way to save 35 American's from a house fire is by sending a teenage girl on a Schwinn.

Anyways, we made back inside safe and sound. Apparently there was a broken alarm on the 5th floor that set the whole building off. So all in all it was an eventful day! Tomorrow is a big day, so it's off to bed for me!

Over and out.

The chairs cost money. Seriously, they do...

So we decided we wanted to see "The 39 Steps" last night (which was a GOOD choice, BTW) so we went up to the Criterion Theater at Picadilly Circus, which, in spite of the name is NOT an actual circus :( We got our tickets for 15pp each and sat towards the back of the orchestra, which was AWESOME. More on that later though.

So we decided we would explore around Piccadilly Circus area and see what was going on. We ended up finding St. James Park, which is this beautiful park sitting in between the Thames, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. It was really cool!
We wandered around for hours looking at the beautiful grounds and enjoying the gorgeous weather. We found this one lawn with a bunch of green and white striped lawn chairs and we all thought "How cool! They set out free lawn chairs for you to sit on! Yay for London!" Just kidding though, apparently the chairs are NOT free as would be perceived.
At one point we wanted to take a break and sit down so we all went and sat down and not more the 3 minutes into sitting some nice Indian man came over and told us we had to PAY to use them. I thought he was joking at first, but no joke it cost 1.50pp to use the chairs!! We were so mad! Apparently healthcare can be free in Europe, but sitting costs you 1.50. We basically haggled the guy and ended up only paying 3.00pp for the 9 chairs we used because we agreed to leave right away, but we were still mad.

Anyways, between going to the non-existent circus and getting charged to sit down we wandered across the park to Buckingham Palace. Yes, THE Buckingham Palace. It was crazy! We were AT Buckingham Palace. It was kind of surreal. It was a neat little palace with a huge monument out front dedicated to Queen Victoria. I've come the realization that Brits LOVE Queen Victoria. Like LOVE her. Her statue is EVERYWHERE!
We can't quite figure out exactly WHAT she did other than be alive for a REALLY long time, but then again I think that's all British royalty has done since they signed the Magna Carta. :) So yeah, Buckingham Palace was cool. The queen was home (the flag was flying) I kept trying to go see here but they have all these pesky fences and these guards with HUGE guns! Like no joke, they had assault rifles. It was neat.
I took all together too many pictures, but hey, its a digital camera and it's friggin' Buckingham Palace right?

So after the many hours of excursion an exploration we toured all over the West End, saw a bunch of theaters with shows we can't afford to see and then at 8:00 went to "The 39 Steps". Can I just say, this play was HILARIOUS! It was laugh out loud, roll on the ground funny.
It's a farce of the Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps", but it pokes fun at all the Hitchcock films. There are 4 actors who play over 50 characters and it is a riot! I loved every second. And we had totally killer seats at the back of the orchestra for way cheap. We were exhausted the whole time because of jet lag and from walking everywhere, but it was totally worth it.

Man this is a cool city. Miriam and I were discussing how it's JUST like New York (not meaning to view it only through the context of American narrative, but there you go) except with different architecture and everyone drives on the other side of the road. Hahaha! I'm loving my time so far. On the agenda for the rest of the week, we have "11 & 12" by Peter Brook tonight at the Rose Theater, then tomorrow we are groundlings for "Macbeth" at the Globe and then tomorrow night a small group of us, including Rodger, is going to see "bash: latter-day plays" by Neil Labute. I'm SUPER excited for all of them (except maybe having to stand up for over 3 hours at "Macbeth", but whatever). I'll keep trying to post on time and let everyone know about what's going on! If you have questions or suggestions for stuff to do in London comment on here! Toodles, all!

Over and out.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rodger won't let us sleep!

WOW! For those who were concerned that we may have crashed over the Atlantic and died, don't worry. I didn't. I made it to London safely, sound and exhausted. 11 hours is 11 hours too many. I can't really sleep on planes so as Christian and Melissa managed some "Coach Class" spooning and slept, I was awake for all but maybe an hour. But, we made it all the same. Getting through customs was actually a breeze, we got a train then a cab and got to Hyde Park Gate. When we got in the cab driver, who we could barely understand through the accent and the silly little microphone-monitor thing that they use, asked us Which Hyde Park Gate? There are two." As sleepy, bewildered Americans we responded confusedly and not knowing what to say so we said "Try them both and we'll see." Hopefully one of us will divine the correct house. Luckily it was the "first" Hyde Gate park. We found it due to the HUGE "BYU" sign tacked outside on the railing. If it weren't for that, utter madness may have ensued.

So we got checked in and the boys get to live in the basement. (Please observe the photos)
It's cozy, decently sized and, of course, dank. Just like I wanted ;)

As we were milling about the flats Rodger and Lance kept reminding us not to sleep. Which went well until around 8:00 when I sat on my bed on my computer with the intention of blogging and literally fell asleep slumped over my laptop. Christian woke me up two hours later, but I was still able to sleep just fine when 11:00 rolled around.

Earlier that day we went shopping for a few groceries in stores that were organized completely helter-skelter from what we would think to be logical. (Cheese dispersed throughout the store by use and country of origin and the eggs not refrigerated next to the bread...?) We bought a little bit of stuff, then when we got back I finally found Heidi and we began some misadventures wandering about Hyde Park for 40 minutes or so. It was GORGEOUS.
Our favorite discovery in the park so far was the random 3-room shrine/temple with nothing in it but the odor of stale urine and some guy named Mike's phone number. It was ridiculous and epic to say the least.
We were both so crazy and tired, it's almost not funny.

Well, that was pretty much the first day. There was a nice little stroll about town where everyone acted like friggin Asian tourists and went around talking loudly, blocking traffic and taking pictures of EVERYTHING. I'm a little upset by the group tourist dynamic, in case you couldn't tell.

Anywho, that's all about that day. I'm sure more will come up later :)

Over and out.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm on a boat! (And by a boat, I mean a plane)

So I'm in the airport right now! OMGZ!! We are just sitting here waiting for them to start boarding the plane. It'll probably be another 30-40 minutes. So we wait. And then we get on the plane. And wait some more. 11 hours and 5 mins more...gah! But hey, I'm going to London!

We just exchanged a bunch of dollars for pounds and I've learned two things so far without even leaving America: 1) pound notes are HUGE, like too big to fit in my wallet huge; and 2) exchange rates are LAME. Watching $500 become 322 pounds is depressing. Lets pray that tithing blessings will allow me to keep eating and not just sit in the flats. ::fingers crossed::

Also, our airport terminal sucks. All the cool shops and stuff are outside of security. But we didn't know that so we decided to go through security first and then go see stuff. SURPRISE, there's nothing to see!! So we sit here. But that's ok. Christian bought an internet pass because he's scrambling to turn in some last-minutes papers to Rodger before the grade deadline tomorrow at noon and I'm taking advantage of it and blogging/goofing off on Facebook. :)

Anywho, I think that's it. Next time I write I'll be FRIGGIN' IN LONDON!!! YAY!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cuz we don't want no dirty beaches...

Today was the last day in California, and so clearly the logical choice was beach day! It was a GORGEOUS 75 degrees in Thousand Oaks today, so we figured high 60s/low 70s for the beach ( even confirmed it). The actual situation: LIES! It was freezing at the beach! We were driving down the canyon with INCREDIBLE weather, and no exaggeration, as soon as we hit the "Malibu City Limits" line there was a wall of fog and the temperature dropped by 20. No joke, I asked "Is it on fire?" because I was so bewildered by the fact that there would be so much cloud cover.

But, we are resilient so we pressed on and had our picnic at Zuma 7. It was freezing. We were bitter. I was mad. Worst beach day EVER! The irony being we are all about to cross the ocean to a land where everything is overcast and cold. Ugh! I wanted one day of sunshine before we left, but clearly the fates have conspired against it.

Anyways. We checked-in and printed our boarding passes! Less than 24 hours until London!!!! We've booked flights to Dublin for the travel weekend and Scotland for Christian's birthday and highland games!!!

My fellow theatre nerds will appreciate this more than the rest: there is a production of "bash: latter-day plays" by Neil Labute opening the day we arrive, and I loves me some Neil Labute!! :)

Also, in 12 hours exactly we will be leaving for LAX to go to London! SQUEE!! I'm sure I'll update from the airport. If not, keep watching for when I get to London!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Leaving Provo: The Journey Begins!!

My study abroad adventure has begun! I started with a 10-hour road trip to my house in California on April 22. Being the phenomenal BYU student that I am I, of course, did no packing or cleaning until the last minute and consequently was awake for approximately 44 hours straight. But, thank goodness, we arrived safely to California without harm or accident. We, of course, being myself, Allan, Christian and Melissa. We'll enjoy a few days of relaxation and then off to London on Tuesday! Just let me go already!!

While Christian and Melissa were at a wedding in Newport all day Friday, Allan and I decided to do some play research and pick out some additional shows we are going to see :) After sifting through the riff-raff of British fringe theatre (including, but not limited to a South African soccer-playing drag queen and "Porn: The Musical") we've selected as of right in now about 7 shows to see for sure. There will undoubtedly be more that we find or whatever but we've got a good lineup so far. Most of it is small, random fringe stuff, but I do have planned to see "Billy Elliot" and "Hair" on the West End!! I'm so pumped!

Today we spent time researching Ryan Air flights in Europe for the travel weekend and we booked flights to Dublin for 6 pounds round trip! WIN. We've got a hostel we are looking at and we are also probably flying to Scotland for Christian's birthday in June (insert cliche "Braveheart" quote here)!! We also discovered the ISIC discounts we get for being poor college students and I'm super excited. I even get discounts in America with it! HOORAY!

Anywho, all I want to do it go to London. The end. I'll keep everybody posted with pics and video. T-minus 3 days and counting...