Thursday, June 15, 2006

By Jove, she's BACK!

I know I have promised for simply ages (alright, so maybe it was a few months ago--when I was over-seas--but you know how I simply detest being over-technical, I mean: where on earth is the fun in being precise and boringly accurate every second of the day?!?).

~ Soka, you're ranting again. (thus stated by a nameless voice that always attempts--quite annoyingly, actually--to knock me back into reality. Just remember I really don't expect this to make any form of sense. My thoughts tend to wander and then try haphazardly to find their way again...sometimes it just simply takes longer than others.)

~ Me: Alright, I'll continue, then...that is if you insist...

~ Believe me, I do. And I'm sure whatever readers you may or may not have will appreciate it as well.

~ Me: Well I said I was impatient today...must be the season or some such aged and over-used phrase.

~ *considers* Probably.

Moving on. I did promise, in my first "Official" entry of my over-sea journey, that I would give you the names of the scholars who bestowed the Chapel of Harris-Manchester College (Oxford, UK) with its truly magnificent stained glass windows.

Anyone care for a drum-roll? No? Well that's a pitty. Ah, well. *a long suffering sigh can be heard over the tap of the keys*

~ These scholars were William Morris and his friend and collaborator, Phillip Webb. Both these men as well as close friends of theirs formed the artistic movement of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

** Now, here is a drawn-rendition and pictures of the lovely Harris-Manchester College itself. The Chapel is near the middle of the drawing.

Now, let's say you were standing on that sidewalk facing the street, just down the street a little ways is the iron gate which students use to enter and exit the college grounds when the hours are late or the main entrance is locked *referring to the arched doorways depicted as the main entrance*.

Here is a link to the Harris Manchester College Website, please visit!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

And now....home~

That's right. It's been a little over a week now, but just to be fair, I'll give you an up-date on what happened before our return:

After leaving Lyon (at the usual ungodly hour of the morning to be walking around and functioning--6:00), we left for Paris. When we arrived, we took a short city tour and then to the Louvre. In the famous museum, I was able to see paintings and sculptures far beyond count and even farther beyond my capability of remembering all of them. A few that stand out particularly in my mind however, were: "St. John the Baptist", "The Mona Lisa" (of course), "Winged Victory" (sculpture), and the "Venus de Milo". After our tour of just one wing of the Louvre (which took a few hours just by itself) we managed to break free of the group and literally ran through the Egyptian section (located in an underground wing = very dark) where I saw sarcophagus, upon obelisk, upon mummified bodies, ancient jewelry, and a "small" Sphinx.
Then, we climbed the Eiffel Tower. At one point, the elevator going up stopped and began to sway back and forth. As it turns out, the elevator operator did this on purpose, apparently he likes to scare American tourists. *shrugs*
After dinner, we returned to the Eiffel Tower just before 10:00 PM. At exactly ten o'clock, the tower was illuminated with lights that probably could have been seen from at least a few miles away. After the illumination was over, we went--slowly because of all the trekking we had been put to--back to our hotel and left the next morning on our 14-hour flight home.
And so concludes my journey, I think my last thought as I left was "If only have stayed--just a while longer". I do hope to return someday, and to also see more of the world which I haven't even begun to cover save in textbooks. For now though, I have enough time just to realize how much I've seen and done already--and I can be content with that...

....for now at least~^^

Friday, April 07, 2006

*Deep Breath*: From Rome, to Firenze (Florence), Pisa, Tuscany, and now Lyon (France)

Thanks everyone for commenting (Hiya Mel/Amber! ^^ + Teachers and Family). I really appreciate the support. As you can see, we've been traveling around a lot, and we just finished making our way through Italy (I will miss the pizza.....*sigh*). Anyways,

~Gelato from around the world~

NOTE: Gelato (aka: sorbet) is a sort of ice-cream, but without as much milk and with more fruit...really hard to explain, but amazingly good. I "tested" some in the following places:

Innsbruck, Austria: Mango; Rating = 10
Venice, Italy: Lemon/Strawberry; Rating = 9/7
Florence, Italy: Lemon; Rating = 9.5
A small city in Italy that I can not pronounce nor spell: Black Cherry; Rating = 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000......well, you get the idea. If I could have lived in that ice-cream shop and could have taken up permanent residence, I would have (I sent some samples to all of you, of course--or just plain invited you).

Ok, enough fantasizing, I'm making myself hungry.

Well, anyways: I visited a medievel church today and visited the Palace of the Popes in Avignon. I will give more details later, I miss you lots, and we head for home in four days, and I will probably be back at school soon/sort of...I don't know whether to jump up and down with happiness (because I am so exhausted from all the travelling every day) or to have a serious mental breakdown.

Well, talk to you later, it is 10:12 here, so Good night!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

From Amsterdam, to Lucern, to Innsbruck, and now Venice #_#

Needless to say, I'm already exhausted (just look at the title), and our actual tour of Europe has just begun! We still have about week and some left X.X ~that's right. Anyways, I have taken lots of different pictures (and I promised long ago I would post my favorites--so look for my upcoming post--it will include photos--finally).

A few nights ago, we were able to squeeze in a side tour before leaving England (of which only fifteen people took part in, including myself and my mom). We went to dinner at this fabulous French restaurant with the best food (there was a sort-of lemon tart--the closest I can come to describe it is heaven, sorry to be so vague, but I'll make myself hungry again if I go into too much more detail on the subject). After dinner, however, the true wonders of the night began (yes I just said wonders and I mean wonders--so stifle your laughter and read on!).

We attended the play "The Phantom of the Opera". Now, I have seen the movie and other members of the group have seen it on Broadway--but this performance astounded all of them, and me as well. They all had amazing voices (naturally), but what hooked me in the most was how wonderfully and artistically the characters were portrayed, as well as the mystifying set and stage-transformations (which would happen about every scene). At one point, the Phantom is atop a golden statuette--which is leering over the audience (pretty much directly overhead of me--we were the 3rd row to the front, and in the middle). His voice was partictularly mesmerizing--and he took to the role so well.... Another dramatic scene was when the chandelier (while controlled) was dropped from the ceiling and was made to "crash" upon the stage. Let's just say it was close enough to my head that I easily could have touched it if I had raised it a mere finger's-length above where it had been.

My favorite characters are the Phantom (I always seem to feel more emotional over this character than virtually any of the rest--not just because I see the injustice that was shown him, but also because he was strong enough to let what he wanted most go, in the end); and Meg (Christine's friend. A dancer--she was always level-headed and smart, never so flighty as Christine seemed to me. Her character would be the kind of person that has that sort of tangible strength about them, that sort of rare courage without recklessness--it is very hard to explain with words, so I apologize for that).

NOTE: for those of you who have had no idea what I have been talking about up until this point, here is an outline of the story (without spoiling it for anyone, should any of you ever see or read it). ~~~ Christine is the daughter of a deceased violinist (1800's) and is a member of an opera house. She has been tutored by a nameless individual to strengthen her promising voice-talents--who turns out to be the Phantom of the Opera--a permanent resident of the Opera house, as well as one that stops at nothing to get what he wants. The Phantom rarely appears in front of anyone, but when he does, half his face is covered in a mask. The troubles for Christine begin when a childhood friend of hers--Raoul--returns and becomes her suitor, making the obsessed Phantom jealous and feeling what he believes to be betrayal.

Please be sure to note: such dramatic stories are an acquired taste (many of my friends would agree). This taste, I have obviously become addicted to--the next book I will be picking up will be The Phantom of the Opera--and most likely the next movie I will own as well. Whenever I become interested in something--I immerse myself in it. (And annoyingly, or so I've been told, it takes a heck of a lot to pull me out of it).

Anyways, *sigh* back to the real world:

We left London around eight o'clock AM three days ago on the Eurostar train to Brussels, Belgium. Apparently, the first king of Belgium was appointed because he was a nephew of the King/Queen of England at the time that it won its freedom. The Kind and Queen had two nephews--and since both were unemployed, one nephew was given Belgium, the other was given Denmark. Interesting how politics work, isn't it? It's even more interesting how the people of this deadly art tend to twist and turn truth and law to bend it so that it will simply satisfy their own needs--at times regardless of the consequences for others....*steam*. Oh, did that slip out? There I go again, ranting my opinions on seemingly random subjects that also just seem to turn up at the wrong times--like on a blog-site. *sigh* Oh well.

Now that that's over *cough, cough*:

We toured the Amsterdam Canals and it was beautiful--more so than I had ever imagined. Meghan was right (a presenter at the Women's Rights Conference); the open-boat tour was more than worth the slight bite of the cold. (Actually, Mom and I sat/stood in the outside-portion of the boat and listened to the guide's commentary from there--which worked out quite well for us).

After Amsterdam (in which we visited the Anne Frank museum ; it was to Lucern, Switzerland (beautiful views); then Innsbruck, Austria (nice, easygoing pace; great scenery, and we went to the Pilatus Mountain, which in legend is rumored to harbor a magnificent Red Dragon in it’s dark caves); and finally, we are now in Venice. I have developed a liking for masks, I wonder why (*cough* Phantom of the Opera *cough*) and they sell them on the streets of Venice when they have their festival—which honors a social movement made hundreds of years ago. We had the opportunity to wander around the city, then take a gondola ride through the canals and old parts of the city (I loved this compared to the business of the rest of the city).

Anyways, I must say goodnight, I must have more sleep tonight than I did the last one (approx. four hours).

~'Night then~

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Randomings in London

A few days ago, I watched the small city of Oxford dissolve into the green hills of England behind the bus which was transporting my mom and myself to London. I miss it...though I don't know why I'm surprised. I felt so much a part of the place--the colleges, everything--though I only spent a very short time there. And so is the magic of Oxford, or so I'm told. I miss the castle-like colleges (there are 39 which make up the entire university) and all the people and places….My favorites were Exeter, Christ Church, and (of course) Harris Manchester.

London is beautiful, to be sure, but I miss Oxford and its simple peace, nonetheless. Speaking of London, so far we have been to two different plays: “Mouse-Trap”, based on the novel by Agatha Christie (I loved it); and “Chicago” (I loved equally well. Note to Danielle: you would have enjoyed it too ^^).

We have spent two nights in London, and have been kicked off a bus twice because we had forgotten to buy our tickets ahead of time. Everyone else seems to have an easy time with the bus system, but my mom and I always seem to make one mistake or another….ie: we don’t have exact change, we board the wrong bus, we get hopelessly lost (yes, hopelessly is a good word for it #_#), etc. Now, I think we have finally figured it out….I think.

Anyways, we managed to make it to the British Museum today—which had a jaw-dropping (well, at least that’s what I did *shrugs*) display of Egyptian artifacts, as well as Greek. I was able to see Cleopatra’s mummy too (apparently she was only seventeen years old when she died). Random thought: but she was shorter than me (I know, it’s revolutionary). Well, I did tell you that it was random didn’t I?
Now continuing: They had monoliths and sphinxes by the dozen—literally. They were also showcasing the Rosetta Stone—basically the stone which allowed Egyptologists to translate the hieroglyphic language so that they could understand it. I think my mind is still reeling with all that I saw, example: @_@. I had no idea London boasted such a collection—and the museum itself was modeled after the Parthenon (huge Grecian pillars, etc.). It was amazing.

Note: one British tradition which I believe I could get used to is that they serve gelato (a kind of icy-fruit ice-cream) at their theatres. It is so delicious. Note to self: forget souvenirs—just save your money for ice-cream. Generous one aren’t I? Just kidding, though it is very good, sightseeing and learning about the history of these amazing places is just about as good. We drove by Buckingham Palace yesterday—O_O, woooooooow.

And, my last words of wisdom for the night: Never take a cab to go basically anywhere unless it is a life-or-death emergency, I’m sure the Queen herself would wince at the fees and Agatha Christie couldn’t come up with a better form of torture-by-payment.

Well, goodnight everyone, we begin our official tour of Europe tomorrow—so I had better get some sleep, for we head to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

P.S. The souvenir of the day is a t-shirt from the museum with the stated quote: “If I am not better at least I am different.” –Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Mom said it suited me beyond all measure. Goodnight! *Zzzzzzzzzz* Snoring sounds can be heard in the distance…..

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The First Official Day of Our Journey

Greetings everyone! We made it--after 12 long hours of flight and other tribulations along the way--we have finally arrived at our destination: Manchester College of Oxford University. Apparently, Manchester is the "youngest" college in Oxford by their standards--but the people have proven to be very hospitable and I already feel at home.
As I walked the path around the grounds today--I looked up to see a sight that I have never before witnessed: two large talons were curled just above my head upon the ledge of an ancient courtyard wall. As I raised my gaze, it fell upon a marvel of architecture. A large stone gryphon-gargoyle stared at me. I had never seen the like of it before, and I think I must have spent an hour looking for other ones around the place.
The stained-glass windows of the church were magnificent, and the patterns of the clothing and hair of the depicted characters were not merely painted on, but were made inside the glass itself (as I was told by the Minister, Peter). Also, there was a rendition of Davinci's "The Last Supper" inside the church--painted very skillfully by one female scholar of Oxford some years ago. My favorite scenes that were shown were of: Saint Mark, Inspiration, and Courage. They were so masterfully done--I couldn't believe it. I will have to ask Minister Peter again who exactly made the windows and when the church was built tomorrow. *So I'm a history/art/whatever the heck else geek: but at least I admit it. ^^*
About the lodgings: we are residing in a very nice and comfortable Oxford dorm-room. We also explored some of the others (some of which dated back to the 15th century I believe, if I'm incorrect on that count then I will correct it later, be assured). Some of these were so old that the floors were sloped at different angels. Also: some of them used to be seperate houses, which were put together to gain more space--which would account for the odd flooring and different structure-styles.
Tomorrow, I am able to leave on a tour around one of the many places worth visiting in Oxford while my mom is discussing different issues in the conference.
Well, I had best get some rest now(jet lag anyone?!?), hopefully I will be able to add more later--maybe even some photos. @_@


Saturday, March 04, 2006

First Entry...and other news

Hello, first post here.

~Well, welcome. As you can see, this is my first entry, and there will be more to come when I begin my trip to Europe and to Oxford for the Women's Rights conference.

I promise to write more later, unfortunatly--my homework is calling me.

--Farewell, until next time--