Friday, April 30, 2010

The London Eye and the Aquarium

The London Eye is something I had to do while I was here. Well, I couldn't go home and say I hadn't done it. Plus, I did, just a little bit, want to see what it was like up there. Today I finally forced myself to get it knocked out. Standing at a solid 442 ft., hanging out into the water (with a a base on the land), and with basically big glass bubbles that allow you to lean out a little and see straight down, it was not built with me in mind. I am glad that it doesn't shoot you straight up to that height, but I wouldn't have minded a little more speed, considering it gave me a lot of time to worry about being up so high. I should say that I had trouble even getting myself on it, I practically got vertigo just looking up at the thing. But, I bought my ticket for the Eye, and for the Aquarium located right nearby.

The majority of the time inside I sat on the bench in the middle and nervously looked around as it slowly moved upwards. Most of my thoughts on the way up were a variation of "Man was not meant to do this, or at least I'm not meant to do this." I cannot deny that the views were great, even on a cloudier day. It really reminds you that London is not a skyscraper city and there aren't many buildings (a few exceptions of course, especially around Canary Wharf) that go way way up. It also gives you a great view of Parliament, located right across the water and the trains stations around the area. I'm glad I did it, it was worth it, but I wouldn't do it again, purely because of my fear of heights.

Do I really want to go up that high?

The capsule:

On the way up:

Admittedly not the best picture in the world, but you can get a sense of what it was like going up, and how it hung out over the water:

Nice view of Parliament:

You get a good feel of just how high up were are with this one, as well as the previous one:

On the way down:

So that was the Eye. Then, I went on to the Aquarium. Now, people--or at least one person--mentioned that it wasn't that great. I see their point, but I enjoyed it. They had one of those tunnels that goes through a tank, so I had sharks and rays swimming right above me. They had other places to view from where I had sharks swim right past me, and later even a sea turtle. I spent about an hour there, but it was an hour filled with some cool sea creatures, a lot of little kids, and some awesome views of the animals (like looking down through glass and seeing sharks swimming below.

I mainly took videos here, the low light made it hard to take individual photos, but here's one:

And a slightly blurry one that gets the point across:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We Will Rock You - Queen musical- try to see before you come home

We Will Rock You at Dominion Theatre

We Will Rock You in London is the musical with Queen’s greatest hits. Buy your tickets for We Will Rock You in London here – with DISCOUNT!

Queen’s musical will rock you to the core and make you Ga Ga for more!

Queen’s musical ‘We Will Rock You’ is a rocking good musical. It’s a guaranteed theatre success as it features 31 of Queen’s greatest hits.

In We Will Rock You globalisation is already complete and permeates every layer of society. Everywhere, young people watch the same movies, wear the same clothes and think the same thoughts. It is a safe and happy Ga Ga world. Unless you're a rebel. Unless you want to rock. The story of We Will Rock You The Musical takes place on the planet Mall, where all musical instruments are banned. The company’s computers generate the music and everybody downloads it. It is the era of boy and girl bands. But resistance is growing....

We Will Rock You includes no less than 31 of Queen’s greatest hits, including 'Killer Queen', 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', 'We Are The Champions', 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'Radio Ga Ga' and of course 'We Will Rock You'. You are sure to have a fantastic evening in the company of We Will Rock You and we can almost certainly guarantee that you will be looking forward to a repeat performance again and again and again and.......

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A day trip, because we could

How many times in my life am I going to be able to say that I woke up in one country, spent most of the day in another, and came back, all in one day? Also included on that is seeing the sunset while traveling over 100 MPH and stopping in a bar that sells over 2,000 types of beer, a Guinness World Record.

I went to Brussels! Well, a week ago I did.

A friend of mine planned it (well, bought the tickets, we really did basically no planning before we left). We met up at 6:45 and headed to catch our 8 AM Eurostar. We got there on time, and my ticket didn't work, but we got that sorted easily and got through security and all the fun stuff you do. I wasn't excited to be up that early, but I wasn't terribly tired either. Again, I was traveling to another country that day, not going to class (or work). Nothing like starting the morning off with a loud ride on the Tube (although with very few people since it was a Saturday). Although riding on the Eurostar was definitely worth it. Again, how many times am I going to be able to get to another country in 2 hours? Yes, at Clemson I have within a two hour drive Atlanta and Charlotte. And how do those two stack up to Brussels, or even Paris (don't really wanna go back there)? I'll let you decide that, but I think I'd rather travel to Brussels for a day. Again, how many more times in my life will I able able to say that I did a day trip to Brussels, and oh by the way it's nearly 200 miles away. Tough life I'm livin.

I had a waffle, had some beer at a place that sold over 2,000 types of beer (a Guinness world record), saw the famous fountain, bought two paintings or prints (we couldn't really tell what exactly they were, but apparently that they were on good paper according to one of my friends) bought some chocolate, and walked around a lot. All of the food we had was good. The beer was good, although I did try one from a monastery which was a little too strong for me to enjoy it.

I liked Brussels, but I came to this conclusion: you have to either spend just a day there or spend a solid amount of time--say a month--there and really get to know it. It didn't strike me as a weekend city, and I've heard people say that spending a weekend there was too long. But, I liked it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

An Obsession

I have an obsession to admit to, one that’s gotten even worse while I’ve been over here in Britain. If they had a taping that I could go to, I would skip my two classes one Wednesday and go. As it is, the fact that the BBC iPlayer (basically like Hulu but run by the BBC, meaning you can only get it here in the UK) has this show makes it bad enough. There are three episodes up that rotate periodically. Oh, right, I should probably tell you the name of the show, if you didn’t guess it already: Top Gear. It’s a car show, where they drive amazing cars and have crazy challenges with extremely inexpensive cars. It apparently gets over 300 million worldwide viewers each week when it’s on the air (sadly, the US gets the episodes wayyy later).

At certain points the guys can be a bit crude, but in most cases they are hysterical. Each has his own quirk: Jeremy Clarkson, the host, is older, taller and vaguely heavyset; Richard Hammond is short and is constantly accused of having his teeth whitened; and James May is the knowledgeable/geeky co host, and is referred to many times as “Captain Slow.” I think what holds it together is the fact that they do seem to truly get along with each other. Yes, they get in fights during most episodes and one of them is angry at the other for a period of time, but then eventually they get over it.

They’ve done crazy things: attempt to make a space shuttle out of a car, race a Eurofighter Typhoon (European fighter jet) against a Bugatti Veyron (at that point the fastest production car in the world), make limousines out of cheap cars and then drive celebrities to a show in them, and so on. They have celebrities on to do a lap around their track in a very basic car, including Simon Cowell, Boris Johnson (mayor of London), Michael Gambon, Stephen Fry, the list goes on. They also do about one show a season where they go to some country (like Vietnam) and have a challenge. In the most recent one they had to get from Bolivia, in the jungle, to the Chilean coast, in cars they bought online. There are some truly scary events, driving over the most dangerous highway in the world involves a tiny road with a massive drop on one side. Of course, there are many random moments that are funny, and the guys imply that they didn’t know exactly what they were going to be doing, but I have a feeling there is some acting involved. That’s fine with me. In the end, they make an interesting and very entertaining show, and you should watch it. Just hop onto youtube and you’ll find plenty of clips.

I figured I needed to get something up here on the blog, considering it’s been a while.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I have a story to tell, mainly about me being not all that smart. It involves getting a new pair of headphones. One headphone in my pair broke, so I figured that I should go buy a new pair. I went to PC World and got a pair yesterday. When I opened it I found that they were designed a little differently than ones in the US. Instead of splitting evenly, one headphone having the same length of wire as the other, this was different. It had one headphone that had a short piece of wire, and another where it was longer, so that the thick wire is to one side of you when you listen. I didn't like that, so today I went and bought another pair, hoping that they would be different. I even asked a lady at the store, and she seemed to think they'd be fine. Not so. Same problem. I tried to return them, but of course for sanitary reasons you can't do that. I came back and am now using that pair now. But, of course, I just looked and was reminded that my phone came with a pair of headphones that have a microphone attached to it, so really I could've just used those. You can tell I though this through very well.

I made some drawings to describe them. Yes, I made drawings. The main reason is that this is better than doing school work (I'm sure my parents will love to hear that).

Regular earphones:
The headphones I got, aka the lopsided ones:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 4-Sunday, March 7th

This was the first full day in Florence. It’s a good city, very old but definitely not decrepit. I started the day by going to church at the Duomo, the Basilica here; technically it is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fior. It’s absolutely massive, although much more interesting on the outside than on the inside. The Mass was in Italian, and it was a Gregorian Mass, so I had no idea what they were saying, although they did have translations of the readings in English, and in French, and in German, and I believe in Spanish. After that I met up with a friend I know from church at Clemson, Christine Davidson. We got lunch, and then she showed me around the area. We walked around for a while, and then we ended up walking up to the Piazza Michelangelo, or something like that. It was a bit of a hike, but what a view! Seriously, this was one of the best views I’ve ever had in my life. Maybe not quite equal to the Cinque Terre, but it was another amazing spot. You can see the mountains around the city, and get a feel for the more agricultural land right next to it. It’s really a breathtaking way to view Florence, and I would say the best view of a city I’ve ever had. If you go to Florence and it's a sunny day, go up here, it's worth the walk. I will pay you (in dollars, pounds, euros, whatever) if that view is not worth the time. I think it helps that the city looks different, compared to a place like New York City or Washington, DC. So I owe Christine a big thank you for that. I should also mention that there’s another church up there that is interesting inside. More beautiful art of course, like all the churches around here. After that we walked over/through the Ponte Vecchio, which is a bridge with a bunch of fancy stores on it. They’re all jewelry stores, and expensive ones at that.

The Basilica, not a great picture, but you get the idea of the size of the thing. This close building is actually the Baptistery, which I never got myself into (sorry mom):

The view:

I had to get in a picture with the view, although not my best picture:

And then I told Christine I'd tag her on Facebook, so she got in on the picture taking:

It turned out that my new roommates were a 15 year old kid and his grandmother; he was from North Carolina and now lived in Denmark with his family and the grandmother. There were also some older ladies from Canada and two girls from USC (the real USC, not South Carolina like some people in Clemson mean when they say USC). I guess I never looked to see if it was a coed hostel or not. It wasn’t a youth hostel, which I was actually kinda glad about, I feel like a youth hostel might be a little less safe, and a little harder to sleep in at night. The two of them were nice, and went to bed relatively early, which was what I was hoping for.

The room:

Oh and I should mention that I owe Christine another thank you. She and her roommates were making dinner around 7 or so, and so she invited me to come over and have some. I enjoyed her cooking, and it was great to talk to people from Clemson. I guarantee you my time in Florence would not have been as good if she hadn’t been so nice and helpful. Check out her blog (there are only one or two posts up):

Overall, another good day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stonehenge and Bath

Hey everyone,

Sorry I haven't continued the spring break story. I'll get one up today, I promise.
But, I will quickly fill you in on my trip to Stonehenge and Bath yesterday. Stonehenge was, well, not all all that exciting. It was interesting to think about how they got all those massive rocks there from miles and miles away, but that's about as far as the interest took me. It really is a bunch of huge, organized rocks that you walk around.

Bath, on the other hand, was actually a neat little town. Well, reasonably sized town, but not a city. The outside of all the buildings were made out of material (can't remember what it was) that was quarried right around there. Even today all the houses have to be covered in this stone. We toured the Roman baths, which are cool because it's a geothermal spot, the only one in the UK, covered by a very old Roman building. But again, even here I wasn't terribly interested. It was cool that the water was naturally warm, and that 250,000 gallons comes up every day from the ground. So, I walked through that, and then a bunch of us ended up going to lunch. We found a cafe after some walking, got two tables, and got our food. I learned yet again, from all the chatting, that I know nothing about movies. I might just get Netflix next school year and catch up on all these movies that I haven't seen. I'd rather not download them off some random website. Anyways, I got a hamburger, and then eventually (after tasting someone else's) decided to get a milkshake. The milkshake was alright, and the hamburger was disappointing. I've had a few good hamburgers while over here, well really two, and when I get home I think I'll be having an American hamburger.

By the time we finished our lunch, we had a few minutes left till we had to get the bus. We walked around a little, took a few pictures, I became worried that I had lost my camera and then I found it, and chatted with a few people. The bus took us to a spot where there were some huge townhouses, and we saw a wedding (it wasn't a good day for a wedding in terms of the weather, rain). We then saw this place called The Circus, it's basically a big circle of townhouses, expensive ones, including one where Nicolas Cage might still own. Might still because he's bankrupt. That was really the end of our trip, and so we headed out on the two and a half hour drive back to campus, stopping off at our other campus (which has a beautiful building and is in another wealthy area) on the way back. I was relatively tired from the day, but really we didn't do a ton of walking. For the price I paid it was worth it, but really Stonehenge, for how much people talk about it, wasn't anywhere near life-changing, but Bath was a great place.