Dec 4 and Dec 5

On Tuesday, we had our last Art History class (next week we just have the final).  We went to one of the White Cube galleries.  White Cube is one of the “best” of the contemporary galleries in London.  High end galleries like really expensive stores: things don’t have price tags on stuff and if the staff doesn’t see you as a legitimate possible buyer, they are not particularly friendly.  Since we were there as a class, they pretty much left us alone and let our teachers show us stuff.  Damien, a boy in our class, was wearing a suit because he was going to the opera later, so our teachers half-jokingly told him to ask the price of one of the smaller pieces because he looked the part of a buyer in his suit.  He left, and then 5 minutes later we saw him being escorted around the gallery by one of the workers, who was explaining all of the pieces.  The next thing we knew, she took him through a secret door we hadn’t noticed into a room that he later told us had the more expensive stuff that they only show to serious buyers who have unlimited amounts of money to spend.  Somehow, the lady bought his story that he was looking for a piece for his dad’s new house in LA.  It was pretty funny because even our teachers were struggling not to laugh, but Damien kept a totally straight face.  After that, since it was Damien’s birthday, we walked around the corner to one of our teacher’s flat, where she had cake and champaign waiting as a sort of birthday/last class party (it was Damien’s birthday).  Her flat must have cost millions of pounds – it had a huge deck with a panoramic view of London.  You could see the London Eye and Big Ben to the left, Lloyds in the middle, and Tower Bridge to the right.  It was really cool.  

Wednesday night we went to our second to last cultural event, Wicked.  It was really really cool.  The singers had AMAZING voices, better than any others I’ve heard in other plays here.  Everybody that went said it was their favorite play that they had ever seen.

Dec. 2

Today we all slept in a little, and then I met up with Teresa and Ashley, and we had a long list of places to go.  We started at Pettycoat Lane Market.  When the fam was here, we went to this market, and it sucked.  Today, since it was the weekend, it was about 25 times bigger.  It had really cheap stuff.  There were whole tables of souvenirs for a pound each, and I got some good deals on stuff, but I can’t mention it since these things might show up for Christmas…After that, we went over to Spitalfields Market.  That was cool, as always, but the only thing I ended up getting was a banana/strawberry/Nutella crepe.  After going through that whole market, we headed over to Covent Garden.  We walked around a checked out the Christmas decorations and found the Jack Daniels Christmas tree made out of barrels.  After walking all around there, we went over to the Tower of London to take picture of Tower Bridge at night, which was really pretty.  After that, Teresa left and Ashley and I walked over Tower Bridge and headed over to the London Eye, since neither of us had done it on this trip yet.  It was so cool!  Since it was night, everything was all lit up.  We couldn’t see Tower Bridge, but we could see Big Ben, Westminster, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Oxford Street, and we even spotted the rides at Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.  It was really awesome.

Dec. 1

Today we got up pretty early to head to the 1 pound scarf lady at the Portobello Market.  We got there pretty much just as people were finishing setting up, and since there were 9 of us and she recognized a lot of us, the lady and her husband pulled out almost all of the scarves from under the table that they brought for the lady.  It was pretty funny – we pretty much ended up buying her out. I’m not sure how many scarves the other girls bought, but I got 6, Teresa got 14, and Ashley ended up with 25!!  After that, we walked through the rest of the market.  We stopped for lunch, and then took the tube over to Hyde Park, where a huge part of the park is turned into Winter Wonderland.  It’s kind of weird.  One part of it is a gigantic Christmas market, but the other part is carnival rides and games with Christmas decorations on them.  The part honestly looks like it’s from a county fair.  After that, we went home, ate, and then a big group of people met up near Leicester Square and we all went on a bar/club crawl together, so that was fun.

Nov. 30

Today was our last group day trip.  We went to Leeds Castle and Canterbury.  We went to Leeds Castle first, and we got there right as it was opening.  It was a really cold day, but sunny, so it was really pretty with all of the frost covering everything.  We walked around the grounds and then toured the castle.  It was really pretty, and the castle was interesting because it’s kind of modernized in parts, and you can even rent rooms to sleep in for the night!  One of the girls in our group decided that she wants her wedding there because the grounds were so pretty.  After the castle, we went to Canterbury.  We went to the cathedral first, which was cool, and then we had free time.  A bunch of the boys sat in McDonalds for almost the whole time, but Ashley and I ate our sandwiches as we walked to save time because there were so many cute stores that we wanted to go into!  There was also a Christmas market stretching through the streets.  We ended up finding some good stuff, like from Cath Kidston, the British version of Vera Bradley, where they were having a random storewide sale.  Lots of people from our group ended up at that store…even the boys, who we told to get presents for their moms and sisters there!  (A few have been asking for help from the girls on our trip as to what to get female family members.)  When we got back, Hilary, Christina, Ashley, Rochelle, and I changed for the opera and went to dinner at an Italian place near school that is pretty good.  After that, we went to the opera (Carmen) with some kids from Art History class and our teachers.  It was really impressive.

Nov. 26

Since we’re done with our community service, we don’t have anything on Mondays except for class at 5:30 at night.  Therefore, Christina, Ashley, and I decided to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour today.  It’s only about a half hour train ride from central London, so it was easy.  Once we got there, we spent about 2 hours looking through the sets from the movies.  It was SO COOL!  We saw tons of sets, like Dumbledore’s office, the common room, Hagrid’s hut, the Burrow, and lots of others.  We also saw a lot of the costumes and wigs that people wore in the films.  In the outside part, we saw the Night Bus, the flying car, Hagrid’s motorcycle, Harry’s house, his parents’ house, wizard chess pieces, and the bridge that goes to Hogwarts.  We also saw models of creatures that were in the movies, and a scale model of Hogwarts that was pretty impressive.  We ended the tour in a store that sold everything remotely connected to Harry Potter, but we didn’t end up getting anything.  After that, Christina went home and Ashley and I went to this pancake place that a bunch of people went to for somebody’s birthday last week.  The pancakes are all discounted on Mondays, so it was pretty hopping.  I got a pancake with bacon, ham, chicken, and cheese baked into it, and it was really really good.  Later on, we had our Great Britain and the Euro class, and it was funny because at every break all of the girls were on different websites comparing Cyber Monday deals with each other.

Nov. 25

Today some people who had not done the ropes course yet did that in the morning.  Since I already did it, I went on a walk with a bunch of random people who wanted to find one of the lakes around Interlaken (it’s between 2 lakes).  We eventually found one of them and took a bunch of pictures by it.  It turned out to be really fun.  After that, we were all starving and we wanted American food, so we ended up at Hooters for lunch.  Yes, the small town of Interlaken has a Hooters.  After lunch, most people went back to the hostel, but Sam and I decided to keep walking since we had already checked out of our rooms and didn’t know what we would do at the hostel.  She and I ended up find the old area of Interlaken, a really pretty path by the river, and a Christmas market.  We tried to go back to where I had initially gotten my chocolate (that turned out to be really good), but it was closed so I got some at a different store.  By then, it was just about time to go to the chocolate show in town.  A hotel that is also a gourmet chocolate store runs shows where people can watch one of their chefs make chocolate.  It was really interesting.  He showed us how he makes caramel filled mini mountains, and he also showed us how he makes milk chocolate cows with dark chocolate details.  Everything was by hand, and it really showed how time consuming it is to make everything by hand like that.  At the end, we got to try everything he had made, in addition to some different truffles and the base white, milk, and dark chocolate.  After we all stuffed our faces, we got vouchers to buy some chocolate in the store, so I got about eight different flavored truffles that were of course delicious.  After that, we hurried back to the hostel to get back on the bus to go to the airport.  The Basel airport is lacking in food places.  I’m shocked that nobody sees what a retail opportunity it would be for a fast food place to go in.  Once we got back to London, we took a bus to the tube to a bus and went home.

Nov. 24

Today we had to get up early because the bus to Zurich left at 8:30am.  It was a couple of hours there.  Once we got there, we walked around, took pictures, shopped, and went to a Christmas market.  It was really fun.  Stuff in Zurich was expensive too – a small Starbucks frappuccino was 7.30 Swiss Francs!  After that, we went back to Interlaken.  A bunch of us got pizza at the place near the hostel, and then got ready to go to the bar/club again.  Lots of people got drunk, so there was some interesting drama that happened.  While I was down at the bar, I saw Angela Terrill!  She’s also studying in London this semester.  Interestingly enough, she and I have been doing the same types of trips to the same places and stuff all semester, so I guess it was just a matter of time before we saw each other!