Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I have heard from more than one person that I seem to be spending not only a lot of time but also a lot of money on travelling. I feel I need to justify or at least explain my affinity to constant travel. I do acknowledge I have been a little bit of a mini jet-setter in the last few months, but traveling around Europe can be done very cheaply. I can fly round trip from London to Geneva for relatively the same amount it costs for my to take the train from Chicago to Grand Rapids. I can take the train to to and from Bath for £18 or roughly $36 and when I do go to Geneva or Bath I stay with friends or family leaving my expenses while there to be little to none. Besides, when else am I going to be able to go to Edinburgh for the weekend at the drop of a hat. This is where I tell you that tomorrow my two friends and I will be boarding a bus for a nine hour ride north to Edinburgh where we'll be till Sunday afternoon.

Last time I was in the city of Edinburgh was in the summer of 2000 with my family, prior to moving back to the States. What I remember of the city is nothing less than glowing. It will be interesting to see how my memory and experience then live up to my up coming adventure there. In summer the city was bathed in light until 11pm, that will certainly not be the case this time. I remember the city being divided into two, one side was new ( only a couple hundred years old) and the other old ( hundreds and hundreds of years old). I remember the streets to be clean and filled with friendly Scots. This time I'll be traveling with two boys as apposed to my family and staying in a hostel. This will be my first time staying in a hostel and traveling exclusively with boys. Let the adventure begin...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Don't claim to be a fan of the Chicago Bears and say you follow the team and yet not know they are going to the Superbowl.

I just returned from four days in Bath. Had a wonderful time as usual. While there I popped into Jolly's to peruse what was left of their after Christmas sales. I found more than one beautiful £300 dress on clearance for £50. My only problem being I had nothing to wear them too. Someday...Anyways it was while admiring them that I noticed a man pass me wearing a Chicago Bears jacket. I watched him for about 30 seconds in awe that I was in the middle of a department store in Bath, England and the guy next to me had a Bears jacket on. I casually strolled up to him and with a big grin asked " So you going to the Superbowl?". My question was met with a confused look. I pointed to his jacket and said "The Chicago bears, they're doing well, you going to see them play the Superbowl". Still looking confused he stumbled to tell me he liked to support them and tried to keep up with how the team was doing. I then informed him that they were doing quite well and were going to the Superbowl. With an embarrassed and still confused look he said "oh great". Do not pretend to be a fan of an American football team if you don't even know that they are going to the Superbowl. As my Dad pointed out, it would be like wearing a Beckham jersey and not knowing who Manchester United was, or now L.A. Galaxy. I mean come on, I hate American Football, but even I know that they Bears are going to the Superbowl!

I have one more semester of classes to go but have no desire to actually start classes again. I can already tell this will be a long semester. I don't want to be in school anymore. I want to be done, I want to be working. No doubt, this feeling will be short lived. But for now, I want to be in the 'real world'. I want to be earning an income and be able to put some of this education, passion, and interest to good use. I want to stop living like a college student.

Before classes do start I am going to try to get as much reading done as possible. I have almost finished reading Barak Obama's new book Audacity of Hope. Its a great book- he has my vote when he decides to run for President. His book touches on Politics, Senate history, his own experiences and history, as well as a brief outline of what seems to be his ideas for change and policy. I will spare you more details as I know many of you regular readers don't care nor want to hear of my liberal rantings. I'll just say that it is a well written book, that Obama is a man of integrity and he will be president some day. I also want get started on some initial research for my tentative dissertation idea.

Side note of interest: I burned the left side of the roof of my mouth today on a potato. I now have a small patch where the first layer of skin has been scorched off and now emits intense pain whenever my tongue touches it. Which happens to be pretty much constantly.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I've been in Nyon, Switzerland for the past week. I'll be here a few more days, until I fly back to London on Wednesday. Loving it here. Can not wait to spend more time here in the future! I'll be in London about a day before taking the train out West to my beloved city of Bath. The rest of the weekend will be spent there with my mother's friend and her family.

While here in Nyon I have spent most of time with my cousin and her two small children. But on Friday my Uncle and I took the day to visit the UN. The only building open for the public to tour is the Palace of Nations. We took the hour long tour in English, as neither of us have our French skills up to snuff yet (slash at all). We wondered the halls that Kofi Annan and now Ban Ki-moon, have no doubt walked through. We sat in conference rooms that the General Assembly have met in, where peace agreements have been made and conferences of great importance have been held. Here is an interesting fact that I am sure very few would know about the main UN grounds in Geneva- peacocks can be found roaming the grounds. The land the UN now stands on there was left by a wealthy Swiss family under three conditions. One of these conditions was that there always be peacocks wondering around. Odd but interesting.

Yesterday the five adults and two kids loaded ourselves up into the European minivan/station wagon and drove for an hour and half to go to the annual hot air balloon festival. To the disappointment of my cousin I did not seem enthused enough at the prospects of a hot air balloon festival. However upon stepping out of the car after a semi-long journey into the crisp Swiss Alp air and looking out into the amazing vista and seeing bizzarro balloons floating about the sky- I changed my tune. I had expected to see the same scene I had when living in West England. During the summers there it was not unusual to see the sky dotted with half a dozen or more hot air balloons. What I saw yesterday was much more entertaining however. We stood within a few dozen yards of ballooners filling their balloons and preparing them for launch. These were no ordinary hot air balloons either. I saw colorful ones, small ones that held one person in a chair, huge ones that held 10 people in its basket. I saw one that was shaped as a newspaper, one as a horse and unfortunately one shaped as a clown. The mild winter that Switzerland, as well as much of Europe in general, has been experiencing was both nice and unfortunate. Normally snow blankets the mountains and creates a fresh palate to walk on, instead we drudge through thick mud. But where we normally would have bundled in order to keep from freezing, we were able to walk around in sweaters and some in only t-shirts.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Handed in my two papers this afternoon. Now all that is left is an oral presentation for my Current Issues and Research in International Law class. I have three questions to answer and discuss: Why I choose the topic, what my argument is, and how I went about researching. The prospect of sitting one on one with my professor and discussing my paper is giving me increasing anxiety.

As a treat to myself for finishing the papers I went to the National Gallery and National Portrait Galleries. This was my third visit there in the past ten days. The Portrait Gallery is by far my favorite. After spending a few hours wondering through the maze like rooms I stepped out into the crisp night London air. The galleries are located at Trafalgar Square. The just set sun, mixed with city lights and the remnant of the days rain left a picturesque scene. I almost hesitated to get on the underground, wanting to walk around soaking in the city atmosphere as long as I could, but my achy feet won out and I entered Charring Cross Station to make my way across town.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Well my dear friend has come and gone already. Over the past week I have travelled all over London and celebrated two Holidays with her. The two of us have been to the Tower of London, the National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Harrods, St. Paul's Cathedral, Parliament, Westminster and many places in between. We saw the movies The Holiday and Night at the Museum as well as the play Love Song staring Neve Campbell and Cillian Murphy. After a whirlwind of site seeing through London and a day spent in my old stomping grounds of Bath, we flew to Nantes, France to ring in the New Year with another friend. There the three old roomies enjoyed the best French food and wine ever. Nantes, it turns out is exactly how one would picture a large French suburb to be. It is picturesque with cliche Frenchmen wearing berets, carrying begets down a sidewalk littered with little french doggy poop.

One thing I have learned when planning holiday trips is to keep in mind that it will be a holiday for everyone else as well. Do not expect national museums and local restaurants to be open on Boxing day, New Years Eve or even New Years. Our dinner 'meal' New Years Eve consisted of Champagne and assorted pastries due to many of the local grocery stores and restaurants closing earlier than expected. I should add that none of us were too torn up over eating fresh, amazingly delish, french pastries for dinner.

Now I have barely a day to gather my thoughts, re-read papers and enjoy a few solitary hours before my next guest arrives late tomorrow night. Her stay will be brief but no doubt very enjoyable. My school holiday does not end after her departure however. I have already booked my flight to Geneva for a five day stay with family there. After returning to London for a few days I hope to get right back to traveling. I feel a train ride out to Bath is called for. This time staying for more than an afternoon. After all, my second and last semester of grad school starts January 29th and I feel it is only right for me to pack in as much leisurely travel and fun as possible. With round trip plane tickets to Geneva for £38 and train tickets out to beautiful Bath for £18 how could I not?!