Thursday, March 18, 2010

j'adore paris.

well, the trip to paris was amazing and full of interesting and great food, a million works of art, incredible churches, creepy men, a lot of stairs, great views of the city and sore feet. but, i LOVED it!!!!

if i tried to break it down day by day it would probably make me remember how stressed and tired i was each day, so i'll categorize my adventures and everything that i loved (and hated?) about my four day trip to france!

tour de eiffel

view from notre dame

museums in paris are better than anywhere else. i am personally a fan of impressionist art. if all art was impressionist, i would be happy. and what better place to see impressionism than in paris? there isn't a better place, so i was happy. the louvre was really stressful. too many people, too much to see, too much to learn. are my top 3 museums:

1. musee d'orsay: no question. this was my absolutely favorite thing that i saw. as i was thinking my trip from three summers ago, i immediately remembered that the orsay was my favorite thing in france. the museum is huge and completely full of impressionism. some of my favorites? monet, manet, renoir, pissaro...etc. i bought two prints of my favorite works so that i can frame them and put them in my room. i am very, very excited.

2. l'orangerie: this is a very small museum, but definitely breathtaking. monet's waterlilies are displayed there, and they are incredible. he had these two oval shaped rooms built for him that perfectly fit these 8 huge panoramic paintings. i could stay in there all day, they were so beautiful.

this was one of my favorites. but, they were all favorites.

3. musee rodin: i loved how some of the sculptures were on display in the gardens and also in the house. all of his sculptures are great.

i love gothic architecture. it blows my mind thinking about how they had to lift all of the materials and had to design the huge, beautiful churches. in france we saw some really great ones:

notre dame. great at night, great during the day. always beautiful. i also loved climbing the towers and getting a wonderful view of the city and seeing the famous bells.

chartres. clearly, incredible.

sainte chappelle. the upper chapel has walls that are practically entirely made of stained glass, on all four sides. it is gorgeous, especially with the sun shining in!

crepes, pastries and croissants have been the basis of my diet for the past few days, seriously. i ate five huge crepes and now think that nutella and banana crepes are my favorite food. i wish that they were healthier. oh, and this is a big deal.... i ate escargot! amazing, right? even i can't believe that i, leslie paige macfarlane, ate a snail...that was green. WOW. i feel very accomplished and proud of myself.

yes, i promise that i ate it. there are six witnesses.

definitely the most delicious ice cream in the world AND it was shaped like a flower!

top five other favorite things that don't really fit into a category:

1. seine river cruise: a beautiful way to see paris by night.

2. eiffel tower - amazing view! and since it is march for march i had to take the stairs. ugh.

family at the top.

3. arc de triomphe - stairs, again, but a great way to see the city.

4. versailles - i wanted to go last time i was in france, but ran out of time. it was so fun to see!

5. the SUN! it is refreshing to know that it is spring in some other part of the world while it is cold and foggy in london.

well, paris was wonderful! we saw so many great things. i loved going back and seeing new things and other different but great things. oh, i got to witness my dad almost beat up a guy for trying to steal his wallet, that was scary. and i made it through border control! yay. when i saw the immigration officers i got really nervous, but i didn't appear to be a threat, so they let me through. our semester here is over in less than a month! it is really sad. i am super lucky and get to stay here two months longer than everyone else, but it is still going by way too fast! i have to start getting busy with my london to do lists before i completely run out of time.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

mr. darcy

i am currently searching for my mr. darcy.
if you know who/where he is, i would really appreciate it if you told me.
this past week for our day trip we had a jane austen extravaganza.
what else could a girl ask for?
it made me want to read all of the books and see all of the movies again, which i plan to do soon.

stourhead landscape gardens was our first stop of the day.
this might look familiar from the 2005 pride and prejudice movie. remember the rain scene? where mr. darcy and elizabeth almost kiss? that was at stourhead, the most incredible, expansive and beautiful gardens in england, possibly in the world.
also, it was a sunny day! this is rare, but made our experience there so much more amazing.

"i love you. most ardently." -mr. darcy

we then stopped at jane austen's home in chawton. i love jane austen. i have read pride and prejudice, sense and sensibility, emma and northanger abbey, but after visiting her house i want to reread all of those and her other two. i realized that i am obsessed with the worlds that she creates for her characters and would absolutely love to live in that time period. if i were elizabeth bennett i would find mr. darcy and live the rest of my life with him. life would be bliss.

jane austen died while living in the little town of winchester, and is buried in winchester cathedral. she originally had this really simple gravemarker on the floor of the cathedral, but when her books became more accepted as great literary achievements a more elaborate plaque and large stain-glass window were added.

also, in winchester at the great hall they have a 12th century round table. like king arthur's round table. it was very cool, massive (it weighed 2400 pounds) and so old.

midterms have been keeping me very stressed, tense and busy this week. but, i had the amazing opportunity last night of seeing the london philharmonic orchestra perform at royal festival hall. the concert hall was the biggest one that i have ever been in and the concert itself was amazing. the piano soloist, although she was dressed in an owl dress, was absolutely incredible. i loved sitting there for a few hours with my great new london friends enjoying the music and getting away from the stress of school.

i am sort of depressed with how quickly time is going by. it is already time for our trip to paris next week! i am unbelievably excited though. i went to paris for a few days almost two summers ago, so i already know things that i want to do again. i can't wait.

and here is my favorite quote currently:
"when a man is sick of london he is sick of life; for there is in london all that life can afford."
-samuel johnson

Saturday, March 6, 2010

march for march.

march for march is this new thing that we are doing in dorm 3.
basically, we walk up all of the stairs at all of the underground stations. and, if there is an escalator, we walk up it too.
you are probably thinking that this is not a big deal, but it is. i mean, it is so easy to be lazy and just casually stand on the escalator and get to the top. where is the fun in that though? also, the amount of stairs that we actually confront is out of control.
this goal for the month of march is much harder than i ever would have anticipated. yesterday we encountered a 320 step staircase. once i got to about step 60 i realized how far 320 steps really is. i endured though, and was the first one to reach the top. my legs are sore today.

last week we went to wales, and it was unbelievably beautiful. we had the best trip. here are some of the things that i absolutely loved about our trip:

•tintern abbey:
we had an english assignment to take 10 minutes and reflect on our surroundings and write them down in the style of william wordsworth. after a few minutes thinking only about the nature and the remarkably kept 13th century abbey, i started to really enjoy the experience.

•the big pit:
when i heard that we were going to be almost 100 m underground for an hour for a tour of a coal mine, i began to feel claustrophobic and stressed. the mine was really cool though, and i am glad i went. also, as a plus, we had to wear these awesome head lamps and helmets:

•museum of welsh life/cymru:
this was basically a welsh version of nauvoo. there were friendly and informative authentically dressed people available to share knowledge and information at all of the little huts and workshops. i learned so much about wales. also, at this same stop of cymru, there was this huge manor house that we saw that had the prettiest gardens. i am beginning to love all of the parks and gardens here so much.

•the hotel:
this seems trivial. but, was definitely at the top of my wales highlights list. having a huge room with giant beds(NO BUNKS!!), a spacious shower and only one roommate was a very welcome change for the night. i went to bed early and had my best sleep of the year.

caerphilly castle.

church history tour:
i loved this. it was so amazing to see all of the places where many prophets and apostles converted so many people and started the church in england. hearing their stories and singing the spirit of god in the first church building in england was one of the best experiences of the trip. climbing to the top of hereforshire beacon was great too, but so so windy.

at herefordshire beacon.

oldest chapel in england. amazing experience.

other exciting things that have happened in the last week include a trip to stratford upon avon. we saw a great performance of king lear and saw many shakespeare sites. it was a great day trip. also, it is almost spring here! it has been pretty sunny all week!! i love it. also, i got to skype with jess and hannah a couple of days ago! also, i went to the tate modern museum. i am trying to decide if i like modern art, i really don't understand it. also, my family and i went to lunch at tortilla today, and we loved it and will definitely be returning soon.

things that i am looking forward to:
jane austen day trip on wednesday and the trip to paris in one week!