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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

walls of halls
i have FINALLY gotten around to tagging and titling all 280+ pics from my 10 day tour of paris and london. sorry about the delay. i have to warn you ahead of time, i have a strange affinity for old buildings... and, it seems, winter trees. and, as it turns out, gray skies!

london bridge will take you to london...

... and the eiffel tower will take you to paris! even if for just a little while. enjoy!
current mood: high tea, anyone?

Monday, January 29, 2007

dear joann
my foot would like to apologize to your jaw. it's pink with embarrassment. some might say that it's a bruise, but i know better.
current mood: sorry!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

the good...
walking around so much in london and paris has prepped me well for the new job... i think i've spent about an hour at my desk each day, and the rest of the time has been spent trekking around campus! including the campus tour i took today (by request of the boss man), and it was so funny to hear jokes that *i* came up with 7 years ago coming out of the mouth of the undergrad tour guide. i have a legacy!!! hehehe
the bad...
someone should have warned me about the walking action ahead of time, as i wore new shoes on the first day, and have had a run of heels-wearing subsequently. tomorrow may have to be a sneaker day.
and the ugly
the status of my car is fluctuating wildly, but i think i've been able to hassle them pretty decently over the phone. the due date went from the 19th to the 31st, then to this friday and then to tuesday, and for every time they change it on me, i get a little more, err, "firm". it's at the point where i'm having them call me every afternoon to give me an update, and if they don't deliver by friday afternoon, then they need to GIVE (not rent) me a car for the weekend. wish me luck on that front.
current mood: other than lame car-ness, things are good!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

and so it starts
congratulate me, i have successfully completed the first day of the rest of my life.

(pause for the uproarious applause to die down)

i can tell you this much: jetlag + hours of HR paperwork = britt being a sleepy beast. once i got over that, i pretty much spent the rest of the day reveling in the excitement of not only finally being where i have wanted to be in for a really long time, but hanging with my new co-workers who are equally excited about me being there. my boss even got me flowers. my calendar is already filling up though, it's sort of crazy to be instantly popular! but, at the same time, it's nice to feel wanted.
current mood: it's coo'

Saturday, January 20, 2007

what is mimery, exactly?
the return trip to paris was not surprising for me considering my history of ever trying to 'get back home'... upon settling into my seat, the voice on the loudspeaker let us all know that the conductor was having difficulty generating power for us to actually get going. 45 minutes later, that was resolved, only to have an alarm go off at one point (no one seemed to react... odd) and, an hour later, to be stopped in the chunnel for no apparent reason, and sit in the dark... i'm not claustrophobic, necessarily, but the thought of being stuck under all that water didn't make me incredibly comfortable.
i got back to london and met up with my fabulous hosts for the night, deanna and gabe, and we headed over to high tea next door to kensington palace. how british is that? we then hopped on to the tube down to south bank to check out the mime festival deanna had read about. what can i say, we were curious. we snagged some tickets to a bona fide, 'award-winning' mime show for the night, and took off on a hunt for the rest of the alleged festival. they must have been good mimes, b/c we didn't hear them (or find them at all).
to kill some time, we trekked over to st. paul's cathedral, checking off the last thing to see on my london 'to-do' list (other than, you know, the mimes), and on the way back to the theatre, we ran in to the tate museum to check out if they still had the slide exhibition... sure enough, we got free tix to test our stomachs out on them after the show.
and this is what i'll say about the show: we came on the night that it was to be sign-language interpreted. that should have been our first clue. you would think the mimes would be expressive enough not to have an interpreter. or a soundtrack. or 2 of the 3 main characters talking the whole time. we were confused... but not as confused as the guy who started laughing as soon as the sign-language lady started signing about the ambient noise. i think he thought she was part of the act.
afterwards, we went back to the tate to the much-anticipated slide-stravaganza, only to end up feeling nauseous and like our brain had been shaken to bits. not bad for free, though ; )
grabbed some dinner, headed back home, and hit the hay. it was nice to be in a homey kinda situation for the first time in the trip, and i really appreciated deanna and gabe putting me up. and i REALLY appreciated gabe hauling my suitcase up the 5 flights of stairs (i almost broke my neck this morning hauling it down).
after a confusing trip to the airport on the tube this morning (had to change trains 3 times when i was supposed to be on a direct line to begin with?), things went pretty smoothly with me having plenty of time to kill at the airports after going through all the security checks. and for once, in a really long time, all my planes were where they were supposed to be coming home. which was nice. except for the throwing up i did on the first leg. that was not so nice.
so now i'm back, still car-less (!?... ?!@#!!) and ready to start the whole new world on monday. cheers!
current mood: aaaand i'm done.

Friday, January 19, 2007

because of the wind
our disneyland adventure turned out to be, uhh, blustery, to say the least. actually, most of the rides were shut down (even the indoors ones), and the only thing they kept saying was "because of the wind". it became a mission of ours to see how many times we could get the disney people to tell us something was awry 'because of the wind.' i think i will include it as a regular entry of reasons things aren't always as they seem.
it didn't really matter that it was shut doan anyway, as katy and i were happy just to be there, and she was happy to be skipping school, and i was happy to shoot aliens in buzz lightyear, as that was one of the only rides that WAS open. spent most of our time photographing ducks, sitting in the restaurant talking, and waiting in the annual passport office as katy tried to apply and simultaneously shake off the guy who just wanted to talk about america and was trying to recruit her.
now i'm done with paris and have to run upstairs to grab my luggage and board the chunnel back to london. au revoir!
current mood: home again, home again, jiggety jig

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

how do you say "eek!" èn francàis?
it turns out that whole "i'm a tourist" leniency thing doesn't work here quite as well as it does in japan. for one thing, people keep coming up to me to ask for directions, then are genuinely upset when ugly old english comes out of my mouth. the other part is when i purchased my metro ticket for the week, i got the one that requires you to have a passport-like picture with it... not having a photo, i drew the likeness of myself in the area for the picture, sealed it up, and continued on my merry metro way. all's going well (despite the look of horror given by people when they learn what i've done) until today on the second to last stop before i got off, the train was descended upon by uniformed ticket checkers... after a little overacting on my part (gosh! i didn't know!) and some harsh french words on theirs, they scribbled something over the picture, and, luckily, gave me back the pass. hopefully that's the first and last time that happens.
yesterday was a most wonderous day as i was finally able to meet up with miss K to the EF (formerly of the 'captain obvious' notoreity) and we spent the afternoon catching up over the last 2 years, shopping for hats, and practicing running into people by walking in non-straight lines. oh, and eating dinner in a gay bar (thematic). she had class today until later when we meet up for dinner, so i spent the day so far hitting the rest of the must-sees: le tour eiffel; arc du triomphe, champs de elysees, some spot that was quite picturesque but i have no idea what is was officially, and, of course, the louvre, where i illegally and surreptitiously snuck a shot of the mona lisa (though the security was somewhat lax on that, admonishing every third person or so who was using their flash).
tomorrow is my last full day here, and guess what we're doing: we're going to disneyland!! no joke. at first i felt sort of lame for thinking to do that, but then i realized i could justify it in a quantative research sort of way, being able to compare/contrast the california, tokyo, and paris parks. look for that surely conclusive report to hit major publications soon. err, if i don't get arrested soon, that is.
current mood: i'm going to disneyland! (weather permitting)

Monday, January 15, 2007

i've got a ticket to ride... twice
first off, please excuse any gross misspellings you may encounter in the following. for some reason, the french have taken it upon themselves to rearrange the entire keyboqrd, including putting the A on the top row, the W on the bottom, & requiring a shift for the period.
i arrived thru the chunnel safe & sound & hoarse from discussing my life story with seatmate, danny (yeahn he doesn't get it either). he was kind enough to not only escort me to my metro gate, but also circle a ton of places to go check out on my map. after he left me at my gate, i pulled out the ticket that someone in london had given me... it was good for 1 metro ride, so i figured out it would be a good way to get to the hostel. for some reason, however, the gates were wide open & dark. i'm sure i looked confused because a good(intentioned) samaritan decided to shove my only ticket into the non-working gate machine (this was after she launched my luggage & her child over the gate). realizing it was stuck, & the ride was free anyway; she took off, causing me to whip out the tweezers & retrieve the ticket.
once arriving at the hostel, i met a nice young brazillian who wrote doan the request i was to take to the metro office to get a metro pass for the week. after trying my "parlez-vous anglàis?" (& getting my credit cards rejected from the automated machine) and receiving an ominous shake of the head, i held up the sign & was able to buy the pass (with the lady laughing at me, but i'm okay with that). the pass is good all week starting monday; something i failed to realize as i was trying over & over to get it accepted in the gates last night. i finally hopped the gate (which, of course, is a non-non) and started on free train ride #2. on the return trip, i was finally able to use the carnet ticket i rescued from certain demise earlier.
today was the usual hours upon hours of walking around, finding a ton of things closed (patheon, notre dame, supermarket), learning some new words (push, pull, where is, and exit come to mind) & finally stumbling upon an internet cafè, where hopefully now i can use my time left after typing this thing FOREVER to find a new place to stay, as the craphole i'm in right now is, how you say, le suck.
current mood: this keyboard is killing me

Sunday, January 14, 2007

pie by night
my dinner last night had a pie theme... most of it involving pork, but there was a tart (which is like a mini pie anyway) too. i intended to take a picture, but i ate it all before i remembered to do that.
by the way, if anyone has intentions to come to london, and needs a place to stay, i highly recommend the place i'm in right now: palmer's lodge. it's a fabulous hostel, warm, friendly, free breakfast, bar in the basement, personal lockers, and a super cool building. plus, it's outside of central london, so it's quiet(er), and it's like 100 steps from the tube station. seriously, thumbs up.
cheers for now, off to paris! good points: will get to see katy for sure, OTO hopefully, and have a good excuse to chunnel it. ... bad points: the hostel probably won't be as nice (hello, free internet rocks!), and (the big one) i don't speak french. i've been practicing my "parlez vous anglais?" alot :)
ps - why does it figure that TODAY is sunny... i leave for paris in about 20 minutes, and i'm tempted to go about and try to re-take some of my pictures so they're visible and don't look like it's hurricane weather!
current mood: flying (well, chunneling) off

Saturday, January 13, 2007

you tube, i tube, let's all tube
i got the hang of this tubing thing... in addition to noticing that it wasn't that crowded and, therefore, a comfortable ride, i also curiously noted that there were no children or teenagers about. actually, everyone looks in their late 20s or older, and, as mentioned before, terribly chic.
that all changed today, however. i pulled another all-day walkabout, and on the advice of an old friend (thanks, lisa!), headed up to camden town to check out the stalls of vendors that have over time been built into the facade of the city. they were working on a number of the subway lines, so those were shut down, and apparently camden town itself is known to get so busy that they shut down the station altogether and only allow people to transfer. luckily i managed to get on one of the last trains outta there, as i wasn't willing to risk hopping on a bus and getting TOTALLY lost. the train was so packed, i thought maybe i was in tokyo again. and it was full of families, teens, and all sorts of not-as-chic normal folk. ah-ha, they only come out on the weekend...?
after some creative transferring to avoid shut-down lines, i finally got to my next stop (tell me why they make the repairs on clearly the busiest travel days?!). on some more advice from a dear friend (thanks, shannon!) i headed over to a bravissimo shop to once and for all get measured by people who i figured knew what they were doing. i first discovered this company while i was in japan, and have adored them since because they have a) great big-boobed bras that are actually cute, and b) they ship internationally. i have joked for the past couple of years that i was going to gather up my big-boobed friends and go on a bra-run to london. so while i was actually here, i figured it was a good time to check things out. imagine my surprise when i got my fitting done and found out that not only was i a smaller back size (YAY!), but a bigger cup size (WHAT?!). and we're talking like at least 3 points on both counts. holy crap.
i decided not to blow a year's salary (as i am currently unemployed) on buying a whole new set of bras, but did get sucked into buying a coat. okay, 2. it's hard to go shopping here, because if you substituted the £ for the $, you would have what you would pay back home. so if something is £20, i would probably be paying 20 bucks back home. but here, it's the equivalent of paying over 40 bucks. anyone who knows me, knows i can be quite, um, frugal. but i'm afraid i can't resist a great coat. some girls go ga-ga over shoes or handbags... whatever, i'm not ashamed that i'll look so cute.
current mood: ready to take it easy

Friday, January 12, 2007

that's how i roll
my dad was helpful enough to remind me to look RIGHT when crossing the street, and it's sage advice. however, after today, i would add one piece more: COMMIT. seriously, these people speed up when they see you step in to the street. you'd better get across fast. one of my dorm-mates actually got hit yesterday, and at the time, i thought she was being dramatic. i know better now.
i went EVERYWHERE today, and still didn't get to see everything i wanted to see. i spent a lot of time at westminster abbey, where you're not allowed to take pictures, so you'll have to take my word for it. london is such a perfect destination for me because i love old architecture and carvings. i also managed to hop on a river cruise to see a bunch of historical buildings from another perspective. another piece of advice: skip the river journey if you're at all prone to motion sickness, as you will end up greener than kermit the frog.
and when i mention that i went everywhere, it's code for i actually got sort of lost. i tend to just wander about streets, and usually just make my way back to where i started. usually i get tired of the wandering and head back, but i kept finding more and more interesting streets to turn down, and found myself in the red-light district of soho, then chinatown, and theatreland. these were all places i wanted to check out... i just didn't realize it until too late that i was actually there!
all in all, ended up walking around and picture taking for about 8 hours straight today (i.e. no food or bathroom breaks. yeah, i'm hardcore). will keep the evening tame, as yesterday i ended up almost being thrown out of a pub for starting a fight. except, i wasn't in the fight (shocker!)... it was actually 2 boys fighting over me. how sweet.
current mood: i spin me right 'round, baby

Thursday, January 11, 2007

london lessons learned
it's just about 2pm here on thursday, and i've been up for 24 hours now. i'm trying to force myself to london time, but i think i'm going to have to turn in for a nap pretty soon.
since our 8am touchdown today, i've learned some important, somewhat amusing things (some more entertaining than others, at least from my perspective).
* my name is brittan. i've come to britain. and i first realized this (no joke) at the immigration counter, which did NOT amuse the agent whatsoever.
* ATM card now de-magnetized (which i sort of found out in san diego), AND my credit card has become de-magnetized. this means that unless i have the cash on me (right about £15 at the moment, which is about $7), or they can key in my card, i'm s-c-r-e-w-e-d.
* everyone here dresses FABULOUSLY. i feel like i'm walking through a magazine, except i'm one of those annoying subscription inserts that sticks out. seriously, it's amazing, every single person i have seen on the tube or out and about is impeccable. and those who aren't are the tourists.
* glad i brought the jacket, even if it's not freezing icy cold. it is, however, gusty windy, and very rainy. somehow my hats did not make it into my luggage. neither did my waterproof pants. i finally came in from the rain once i felt it go through my socks (times like these, it's probably better i'm traveling solo so someone doesn't get upset at me dragging them through the gales).
* with the beautiful people, and the rain, somehow i turned out to be the only person on the entire train that was damp. i was leaving condensation marks, and everyone else looks like they just got their hair done. what the??
* just looked over and saw someone reading a paper with 153-point font that says "ALL OF BRITAIN ON FLOOD ALERT". cool.
current mood: tea-time!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

bon voyage
i'm off to adventure!
ps to those all those who have brought it up: i'll keep my eye out for the handsome parisian that is poised to sweep me off my feet, i promise.
current mood: sleeping on the plane would be good for once

Monday, January 08, 2007

pajama jammy jam
having turned in my car to get repaired, i'm slightly marooned in the esco waiting out the days till my flight leaves on wednesday morning. i'm trying to get the last couple of things done before i go, and am trying to not freak out ("i will not freeze to death, i will not freeze to death"). in the meantime, the sis-a-lis and i are harkening back to our younger days, laying in our beds, talking until we fall asleep (or other obligations like late phone calls pull us away). ahh, nostalgia.
hopefully i'll get everything done that i need to before i go, and will have to keep the positive vibes up until i touch back down in SD ("i will not lose my luggage, i WILL NOT lose my luggage!")
current mood: it will all come together... right??

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

conquering the fear
despite the numerous travels about southeast asia solo, i, for some reason, am HUGELY intimidated by traveling to europe by myself. it's something about not obviously sticking out as a foreigner that i fool myself into thinking that there will be expectations put on me about languages, cultural insiders, etc.
so i'm conquering the fear. OR, more realistically, chipping away at it. i'm headed off to london and paris for a week+ ... and i'm going solo, though i'm hoping to meet up with a few friends in paris. wish me luck!
current mood: so much to do!

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