Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weeks 5-8

Well it didn't take me very long to get behind did it? I'm sorry readers. I became terribly busy and haven't quite bounced back yet. Until today! I think I'll just have to do highlights from each week. That's all you really care about anyway, right? :)

Week 5!

This week was a very exciting one. I feel like a broken record saying that, but this week was one I was really looking forward to. It started off right when a group of girls from AHA and I decided to go see Priscilla: Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre. I managed to find 10 pound tickets online so we were all excited to be seeing a musical for a price so low. Our seats were absolute crap but it was a wonderful, feel-good kind of musical. We all left the theatre with "I Will Survive" and other catchy tunes stuck in our heads.

Next Week 5 highlight was a guest speaker named Matthew Pidgeon in my Theatre class. Matthew is an actor who we saw twice in the Globe, and has worked all over England and Scotland. It was incredible to be able to pick his brain for a couple hours and find out what it's like to live the life of a professional actor.

My favorite part of the week was, by far, going on a two day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's hometown. I'm proud to say that Tara and I did not miss our train, in fact no one did, and we were on our way at about half past 10. Stratford was a beautiful little town. It reminded me a lot of Ashland, Oregon where they hold the Oregon Shakespeare Festival every year. It seemed to me that the people of Stratford are very proud of their heritage, and it was lovely to be in a town full of Shakespeare nerds like myself. We hit pretty much all the main sites including Shakespeare's grave in the Holy Trinity Church, Shakespeare's birthplace and family home, Thomas Nash's house (who was married to Shakespeare's daughter), Hall's Croft (where Shakespeare's other daughter lived with her husband), and Anne Hathaway's Cottage. I even got to see a production of Macbeth performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was a very strange production, but our seats were incredible and I loved being able to see the RSC. We also stayed in an AMAZING bed and breakfast called The Hollies which I would recommend to anyone planning on going to Stratford.

Outside Shakespeare's Home!

Taken on a walk along the River Avon. I wouldn't recommend getting in the Ophelia boat.. I loved all the Shakespeare references in town.

A stop for cider after RSC's Macbeth at the Black Swan

Caitlin, Katrina, Julia, and I outside of Anne Hathaway's Cottage

On our way home a few of us hopped off the train in Warwick. I didn't really know anything about Warwick except that it had a castle, but we ended up having a great couple of hours there. We climbed another tower at Saint Mary's, Warwick and saw views of the entire city. The stairway up was by far the most confined and scariest one yet, but the views were worth it. On our way back down the staircase, some jokesters at the front of the line decided to play a practical joke on everyone.. They pretended like they couldn't get the door at the bottom to open, and I legitimately thought we were trapped inside. I was at the back of the line too so I couldn't see what was going on. Needless to say, I was not happy. But after about 3 minutes of panic they revealed it was a joke. Ha... ha.....

From the top of Saint Mary's Warwick

Tara, Caitlin, Michelle, Julia, Nicole and I after climbing 167 steps to the top.

A view of Saint Mary's from the ground.

Week 6!

Now this is where things really got busy. Unfortunately this was the week that actually felt like school, not just a 3 month London vacation. I had five essays due in week six alone, as well as two midterms to study for. Everything hit me all at once and there wasn't much time to relax, or sleep for that matter. However, I did have a week long trip to Spain to look forward to at the end of the week, so I couldn't complain too much. On Monday I saw a performance of Othello that was absolutely terrible. The concept was very intriguing; this production was a role-reversal Othello, set in the Caribbean. However, they did the whole play with just three characters: Othello, Iago, and Desdemona, and it just didn't work. Those who have read Othello can see how that wouldn't work simply because the story in it's entirety cannot be told with three characters. I didn't feel like they did it justice, but I guess that's the nature of the theatre sometimes.

On Tuesday we went to the Victoria and Albert museum to see a theatre exhibit and that was definitely a highlight. I got to see a lot of amazing costumes, including a rhinoceros costume used in a production of Ionesco's Rhinoceros, models of sets, posters, and other theatre memorabilia. I spent a lot of time in there, and I really want to make it back to the V&A before I head back home.

Wednesday is the most memorable of this week because we went to a pre-performance talk of an opera we were seeing that night, The Marriage of Figaro, directed by Fiona Shaw (Aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter films!). She had a lot of interesting things to say about her production, and all of us Harry Potter nerds were just excited to be in her presence. After the talk I grabbed some dinner before the show, and when I went back to the lobby to wait for the doors to open, I ran into Ms. Shaw. I was absolutely star struck, and the only thing I could manage to say was "Hello!" She looked at me a little funny, and then said "Hello" back. I was so embarrassed. I have no autograph or picture to prove that this actually happened, but at least I have a good story.

Week 7!

On Friday, Caitlin, Julia, Britany, and I jetted off to Barcelona for our eight day holiday in Spain. It was a wonderful reward after a very long week. We did A LOT in Barcelona. People have been asking me what I saw in Barcelona and all I can reply with is "everything" because we really did walk all over the entire city. Most memorable were the Gaudi sites, La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and Casa Batllo. We also walked up to the Olympic Stadium used for the 1992 Summer Olympics, and I can now say I've been inside an Olympic Stadium! After three days in Barcelona, I was ready to move on to Valencia.

Our first full day in Barcelona. Caitlin and I in Parc de la Ciutadella.

The ceiling of La Sagrada Familia

Outside La Sagrada Familia. It's not supposed to be finished until sometime between 2020-2040. The girls and I decided we are going to make a trip back once it's completed.

Hiking up Parc Guell for views of all of Barcelona

Picture break in Parc de Montjuic on our way up to Estadi Olimpic

Valencia had a very different feel than Barcelona. It felt much more "Spanish" to me, and what I picture an idyllic Spanish town to look like. The language barrier was much more obvious in Valencia, but we made do. It was certainly a challenge, but most people in Valencia were very nice about it. I have two favorite parts about Valencia: the first being the churros and chocolate we found our first night there, the second being La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. We had been reading about churros and chocolate in our Spain guide book, but couldn't seem to find them anywhere. And in Valencia, by some divine intervention, we walked by a chocolate shop right as a server was bringing churros and chocolate to a table. It was meant to be. They bring out churros, that are not covered in cinnamon and sugar like they are back home, and a huge mug of drinking chocolate. They were unbelievably delicious. La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is huge Arts and Sciences complex in Valencia, and Julia, Caitlin, and I decided to go to Oceanografico, the Spanish version of a Sea World. It was the best part of the trip. We explored the park and all it's aquariums all morning until it was time to head to the train station to catch our train to Madrid.

Yum. My mouth is watering just looking at this.

La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias

Inside the bird exhibit in Oceanografico

Enjoying a nice big glass of horchata after Oceanografico. I found out horchata originated in Valencia and I was so excited to have some real authentic horchata.

Madrid was definitely my favorite city out of the three. The people there really made the experience the best of all of the cities. We also got to meet up with Tara and her sister! It was great to see some familiar faces. We stayed at an amazing hostel, the Way Hostel, and I don't think our time in Madrid would have been the same if we hadn't stayed there. The manager, Bau, was incredibly helpful and made our stay so enjoyable. We went on a free walking tour the first day and became acquainted with Madrid pretty quickly. My most memorable Madrid moment was seeing Pablo Picasso's Guernica in Museo Reina Sofia. It felt extremely surreal to be standing in front of such a influential painting. Our last day in Madrid was spent at Museo Nacional del Prado, the second largest museum in the world. I saw some paintings that I've studied in the past, like Goya's Saturn devouring his Child, and Velazquez's Las Meninas. It was another very surreal day for me. I don't feel like I really tackled the museum because it was so big, but I was happy with what I was able to see.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid. Before our walking tour.

Plaza Mayor, where one flat will cost you one million euros!

Palacio Real de Madrid (Madrid's Royal Palace)

Museo Reina Sofia

Museo del Prado

Week 8!

That brings us to this week! I was really looking forward to this week because we went to see Ralph Fienne's as Prospero in The Tempest. I was blown away by his performance, as well as the rest of the cast. AHA even shelled out for some great seats; we were about six rows back! I couldn't believe it. I was mesmerized the entire show, and I was giddy with excitement to be seeing Voldemort that close up! It's one performance I won't soon forget.

I was also looking forward to our day trip to Bath that happened on Friday. Bath was a great little town. Felt very old, and very small, but it was wonderful escape from London. You don't need much more than a day trip for Bath. We had an early morning train, and came back in the afternoon. We went inside Bath Abbey, walked through the Fashion Museum, and explored the Roman Baths. All three were great, but the Fashion Museum was probably my favorite. We had audio guides and I found myself listening to every single thing I could. I took a History of Costuming class at OSU last year and it was great to see some of the things we had talked about up close. The Roman Baths were also incredible. It was kind of crazy to think that we were walking along stone that the Romans actually walked on. Overall it was a great day trip.

Early morning fog, early morning train to Bath

Awesome reflection of Tara in my window

Stained Glass in Bath Abbey

Beautiful river in Bath

The Roman Baths

3000 year old Stone under our feet

And that's about the extent of my weekend! I'm a bit slammed with homework right now, so I stayed home yesterday and I probably will again today. No more slacking on this blog, I promise!