Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cruising :)

Ok so I'm not gonna lie:  I have always been one of those people who make fun of cruises.  I think about how cliché they are, and how it's like taking a vacation with 2,000 people you don't know and having every minute planned with them... I don't know I've never seen the appeal.  I was quite wrong.  Cruises are awesome!!  There is always something planned for you to do, if you want, like volleyball on the deck, the food is free and there's plenty of it, and when you go to explore a city you have a guide that knows where they're going.  It was actually a lot of fun.  Here was my itinerary:


This day was mostly a loading day, getting settled, meeting the crew, and exploring a little bit of the Spanish island Palma de Mallorca.  I loved it.  It was very interesting because most of the store owners spoke German even though it's a Spanish-speaking region because the number of German tourists is so high.  That night was a late night celebration for taking off, and we also stayed up until midnight to celebrate my eighteenth birthday (picture below).


My birthday was the one and only sea day, a day where we made no stops.  We lounged on the deck, I read books, listened to music, swam.  It was nice to really relax for the first time in two months on my birthday.  


We stopped on the island of Corsica on the third day.  Our activities for the day were visiting a turtle park and going to the beach.  Yes, I said a turtle park.  Initially, I was quite interested in the turtle park because a) I had never been to one, b) I have friends that LOVE turtles, and c) turtles are cool.  When we got there and started looking around, we couldn't see any turtles... It was too cold out and they were all in there little incubated areas.  But then we kept walking and found the turtles that were willing to brave the cold and come be fed by us.  These turtles were humungous! I have videos and pics for people who want to see.  It had warmed up by the time we went to the beach, and for those of you that know I'm beach crazy, you can imagine how excited I was to get to swim in the ocean.  Well, the water was so cold that at first I didn't notice how different it was from any ocean I had swum in before.  The water was crystal clear.  I could see my entire body as if I weren't in water, and I could see everything else too.  I was surrounded by fish.  It was awesome.


In Rome I did a panoramic tour of the entire city, which was really interesting since I got to see everything in a nut shell.  Then we had free time and my host family and I went exploring.  The street we took, however, was the most exciting part of Rome for me :)  It was, of course, the shopping street.  Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Gucci, Tiffany's, Mui Mui, Missoni, etc. Right there!  I didn't get to go into any though :/


In Pisa we did the obvious:  We visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  I found the stone that the tower was made of to be very beautiful since it was so white and gleaming.  We also almost missed our bus back here and had to run to catch it.... yeah that was an interesting site let me tell you.


This was probably my favorite day because we saw so much and heard about so much interesting history, not to mention we were in a very rich area where the taxis were BMWs and such.  In Monte Carlo the normal streets that cars drive on had diamonds mixed into them so that the streets glinted in the sun.  Beautiful, and horribly expensive.  Monte Carlo is also home to the casino where the first of the modern James Bond movies was shot.  So cool to actually be in the place where those scenes were shot.  


In Barcelona my host parents split from the host kids and me.  The host kids and I went on a bike tour for the entire day through Barcelona. If I had known that Barcelona is quite hilly, I think I would have rethought my choice to do the bike tour.  All in all though, I bet the bike tour was the best way to see an awesome city from head to toe, and my legs didn't hurt... that much... afterwards :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sorry For Taking So Long...

Hi everyone!

I know  haven't written a blog post in weeks, and I'm sorry, but I was vacationing for two weeks and letting college applications suck the life out of me for the others.  As for my vacationing, let me sum it up for you :)

Ok, so my overall view of London, Oxford, and England in general was that it's freaking awesome!!  I am in love with London and Oxford.  I could totally see myself living there one day.  It's all so saturated with history; I love it!

MONDAY:  We arrived on Monday morning at 10:30 in the morning.  No, we didn't come by plane, we came by bus, and the promised 12-hour bus ride actually ended up being more like 16.  Trust me, those four hours do make a difference in one's ability to walk.  Once we put all our luggage in the lobby of our very creepy and cheap hotel (the rooms weren't ready yet), we moved on to doing the Queens Walk, which is from Tower Hill to the London Eye.  2.5 hours later and still walking, I asked myself why we were doing all the walking on the day where we didn't sleep at all?  I'm still waiting for the answer myself.  It was quite beautiful though. Once we arrived at the London Eye, which I believe is the biggest "ferris wheel" in the world, we actually got to ride it, which was pretty awesome.  After that we had free time.  Yes, in Germany when you go on class trips you don't have to stay with your chaperones all the time and you have a pretty late curfew :D

TUESDAY:  Tuesday we had a Panorama Tour of London.  It was here that I truly fell in love, since I saw everything and heard about all sorts of history and traditions.  After that, and this will interest all Harry Potter fans, I visited Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross.  Yes, it does exist, but they've moved it outside the station now.  I even have a picture :P  I then visited a very cool art museum that I currently can't remember the name of, but I bought lots of things there for people because art museum gift shops are the coolest stores ever.  

WEDNESDAY:  Oxford Day!!!  This day was sooooooooooooooooooooooo cool :)  Oxford University has a fascinating history and a fascinating structure.  There are actually 38 independent colleges that make up Oxford University, and when a student applies, they have to choose which college they want to be a part of.  If not, a computer chooses for them.  The colleges are very different, so I wouldn't recommend the computer strategy.  I also saw many places that scenes, once again, for Harry Potter were filmed.  I was in Hogwarts hospital wing, where Harry regrew his bones, and I was in the courtyard where "Professor Moody" turned Malfoy into a ferret.  Haha.  Sorry, Harry Potter moment there.  

THURSDAY:  On Thursday we visited Shakespeare's Globe Theater, the rendition, of course, and that was one of the coolest things we did on the trip.  Partially because the tour was in English, partially because I love Shakespeare, and partially because I had an amazing English teacher named Mrs. Knudson that drilled all sorts of history and facts about him into my brain, so I knew way more than anyone else.  After that tour, I went to Oxford STREET in London.  Anyone who knows Oxford St. and me would know that that is a very dangerous situation.  Oxford St. is the shopping street, and yes, I shopped. :)

On Friday I flew out early from the trip because of the cruise my family got me.  England or Cruise?  To be completely honest, at that moment, England won hands down.  Ok I'm gonna save this and write another with the rest before my internet dies and I lose all this.  I'm back everyone :)