Friday, October 2, 2009

England and Wales

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, I spent a lovely week in England with Sarah and then a night with Katherine, but as I said in my last post, no internet access.  Now I'm back in Valencia with fairly reliable internet access in a 'funky' youth hostel (the quotation marks are because yes, the paint and decor are funky in a fun way, some of the odors are funky in the not so fun way) so I thought I'd give y'all an update. 
Sarah and Andy's house in Bristol, cute huh?

Sarah and I visited the S.S. Great Britain which was in service from 1845 to 1931 and it took travelers and immigrants from the UK to Australia and from theUK to New York.  It also carried coal and wheat.  It was pretty fascinating exhibit actually and the audio tour was fun.  Sarah and I in front of the ship.

That evening we went to a concert at the Colston Hall in Bristol which has just had a major renovation and a huge new lobby put in.  We went out for dinner at a pub called Slug and Lettuce.  They had Strong Bow on tap which I enjoyed.  This is Sarah and I at the Slug and Lettuce.

Andy (Sarah's boyfriend), Sarah and I at Colston Hall in the new lobby.

The main act was Beth Rowley, her style and voice reminded me a little of Brandi Carlile.  The opening act was Phantom Limb.  They were really good as well and I got their CD.

On Friday we visited Cardiff Castle in Cardiff, Wales.  It was pretty neat.  It was originally a Roman fort and then was used as a fort or castle by every group of marauding conquerors in that corner of the world until the final family who owned it gave it to the city of Cardiff in 1947.  This is me sitting on the top of the wall.

During the war the walls were used as air raid shelters.  We walked through one of these 'lovely' tunnels...and then discovered it was one-way and we had to turn around and re-trace our steps to get out.  

This photo is the living quarters of the castle which were significantly added to and renovated in the mid-1800s

Sarah and I on the steps to the Norman Keep portion of the castle grounds

We did meet some falcons and owls in the castle's falconry.  The sign said they were tethered for their own protection...he doesn't look terribly happy about it though

Saturday we visited the English seaside at Weston and somewhere else I can't remember the name of :(  It was a lovely day.  I love the sea.  You can see Wales from the shore.  The tidal difference is huge and we were there at low tide so the water was a LONG way away.  

Andy, Sarah and me on top of a hill and behind us you can see Bristol, I think.

Saturday evening we went out for Curry with Sarah's Canadian friend Debra.  Poor Sarah was out-numbered by the North Americans.  It was interesting to sit with someone who sounds sort of American, but not quite and I kept wanting to make comments about Robyn from How I Met your Mother, but of course they haven't even heard of it.  The food was very nice and afterward we stopped at the local pub.  I had a local cider, which was...interesting.  No carbonation and a strange aftertaste.  But it's good to sample the local specialties, right?

Sunday, like good, intelligent women, we went shopping.  I did end up buying a good pair of merrell shoes, which should be good for all the walking I plan to do in the next two months.  Also, it was chilly in Bristol so we went to Primark (which is a bargain shopper's DREAM by the way) and I bought 3 long-sleeved shirts and a light sweater.  Now, how I'm going to fit these in my luggage I have no idea, but I'm sure I'll find a way.

Monday Sarah had to work but I met her for lunch and then Monday evening we went to a horse rescue farm which was very nice and then out for a proper English Roast Dinner.  This consists of roasted meat and tons of vegetables.  Also yorkshire pudding.  Now, I had heard yorkshire pudding was not good.  People, it is wonderful, and coated in gravy?  Even better!  Throughout all our adventures we did find time to sit around and read trash novels (the original love that brought Sarah and I together) and watch movies and British Reality TV (there's this show where 5 people host a dinner party and whoever gets rated the highest by the others wins 1000 pounds, strangely addicting that).  It was a fabulous visit!

Tuesday I caught the bus to London.  Katherine (a fellow SLP with whom I went to graduate school) emailed me perfect directions to her place and left me a key to her flat so I dropped off my bags and then just wandered around London.  I got out of the tube by Big Ben and walked through St. James Park, Green Park and Hyde Park.  I love the parks in London.

Buckingham Palace as viewed from St. James Park (I think, I know it's Buckingham Palace, I'm just not sure if I took the photo from St. James or Green Park)

Cormorants in the Long Water in Hyde Park

When Katherine got off work I met her for dinner at a cute little place and we shared a bottle of wine and caught up.  It was nice to see her. Wednesday morning I got up at 4:30 to get to the airport to get a plane back to Valencia.  Turns out those shirts and shoes put me over the limit, I had to take 3 kilos of stuff out of my bag before I could check it.  

I made it back to Valencia and checked into a youth hostel for my last few days here.  It's not bad, but I sure do feel old.  Wednesday night there's a language exchange at a bar owned by some Americans so I went to that and ran into a Spanish guy I had met before, Paco.  Paco very kindly helped me work on my Spanish and we together helped an English couple who is here teaching at an international school (they taught in Thailand for 2 years and Rome for 2 years) and an Irish girl who is here at the University for a semester exchange taking fine arts classes in Spanish, even though she doesn't speak any Spanish.  Poor kid!  Paco invited me out for lunch on Thursday and we did the traditional Spanish thing and ordered from the menú del día (menu of the day).  I've been too intimidated to do it before because I'm not sure what I'm going to get, but Paco helped me.  Which was good, because I nearly ordered a whole fish, head, bones and all.  

Sorry for the long post, that's my update for the last week :)  Tomorrow I'm heading to Barcelona to wait for my friend Erin to come from Austin on the 7th.  

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