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

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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.