Prague Old Town Square

Hi all — leaving Prague in the morning via a bus to Munich, Prague is a really neat city and I enjoyed my time there. Full write up tomorrow when I have a chance to scribble down some thoughts. In the meantime, though, enjoy this video of Easter celebrations in the Old Town Square on Saturday!

Berlin: or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the wall

Ahoy citizens of the Internet! Leaving Berlin tomorrow morning after a very exciting 2.5 days with Nate.

The highlights: walking along the path of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, watching die Mannshaft take on Kazakhstan in a bar, the Neues Museum on Museum Island including the bust of Nefertiti, meeting Britons in our hostel, the Berlin Zoo and their impressive collection of big cats, and the DDR (East Germany) Museum.

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Berlin Wall

The lowlights: basically nothing.

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Bust of Pericles in the Altes Museum

Berlin turned out to be a really fascinating city, full of history — much of it quite sad but nonetheless offering possibilities for the future. The city is quite sprawling and somewhat empty, much of it having been destroyed in the war and reconstructed over the last few decades. Our hostel is in a great location in a Turkish/ethnic district in the south of the city — lots of food in the area including “doner kebab.” Did you know that kebab was actually invented in Berlin? Lots more good, cheap food than there was in Amsterdam, including some baklava and traditional German sausage and curry wurst. Tonight we actually has Mexican food for the first time in Europe, which was fantastic (particularly the margaritas).

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So much chocolate…

Our hostel was also really nice, and we spent some time hanging out with a large group of British university students who had been biking to Berlin. All in all I have no complaints at all about this city. Very excited to see Prague tomorrow after a four hour train ride!

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Me after eight days of traveling.

Paris and Amsterdam

Hello there – it is nearly 2 am in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, but I wanted to quickly update the world. Paris was fantastic — after an eight hour bus trip I arrived on Thursday evening and spent a pleasant 2.5 days there. Our apartment near chatelet was very central and much ground was covered on foot. Local delicacies were consumed (wine, cheese, baguette, crepes, mussels, fries etc) and a good time was had.

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Last night the night bus took us through Belgium and an absurd snowstorm to Amsterdam, where we were thrown out into the freezing cold at 7 am. So a long day here. Red light district quite a surreal sight to behold but the city is very beautiful (lots of canals). If only it weren’t freezing!

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More exploring in store for tomorrow then Berlin on Tuesday!

Trip time

Ahoy hoy! Tomorrow morning, after I have finished a fascinating paper on architecture, I’ll be taking the Megabus to Paris, France.

I’ll be in mainland Europe until the 13th of April — Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Munich, Venice, Florence, Rome, and Paris again. I’ll post pictures every few days here on the internet so everyone can be jealous follow my trip!

My last act before traveling was to get a very thorough haircut at the UCL Union haircuttery. Don’t want to have my absurd hair weight slowing me down.

As the French say, bonjourmercifromage au revoir! 

Shane visits, good food, and more football

Hello everyone! Sorry for the limited posting in the last few weeks. My computer did indeed bite the dust last week, and I have acquired a new laptop to replace it. (I was worried about the new one having a UK keyboard; the only noticeable difference is that the 4 key has a pound sign on it! I have been very busy preparing for my trip to Europe which kicks off on Thursday. I’ll post an abbreviated itinerary on here before I leave — almost as much for me as it is for all yall out on the internet.

The highlight of the last week was the visit of my friend Shane for Monday and Tuesday. I’ve known Shane since kindergarten (1997, so 16 years?!) and it was neat to get a chance to show him around Europe for the first time. (Though he travels incessantly due to airline connections, Shane is more of a warm-weather guy; I loaned him one of my jackets for the two days he was here). We did most of the stereotypical London things — pub food, English breakfast, picture with Big Ben, taking the tube, and a football match (more on that later).

Proof that Shane was here

Proof that Shane was here and was very cold

Yesterday I went out to Sutton to see my Aunt Joan; she was (as always) very hospitable to me. I helped her change the ink cartridges in her printer and we went out to lunch at a pizza-type place. It was the first time in the UK that I have not been perplexed by their interpretation of Italian food. Though the best food I ate this week came courtesy of the Borough Market this afternoon, where I consumed a kangaroo burger — it was delicious.

Surprisingly, this tasted incredible

Surprisingly, this tasted incredible

Soccer Football update: I’ve been to three more games since the last post here on the blag.

Brentford FC 1 Scunthorpe United 0 — Two Saturdays ago, I went out to the west fringes of London to enjoy this League One (third division) match. The area I was in had no seats, but it was a beautiful sunny day; in fact, I was quite overdressed for the occasion! 

Yay we scored a goal let's hug the fans

Yay we scored a goal let’s hug the fans

Dagenham & Redbridge FC 2 Torquay United 2 — I took Shane out to the extreme east of London on Tuesday night to take in a League Two showdown (along with a paid attendance of 1,000 additional spectators). It was bitterly cold and periodically featured a snow shower. The football was equally dreary. Despite a penalty and a red card against Torquay in the third minute, “the Daggers” couldn’t produce much, and settled for a draw when Torquay scored from a PK of their own in the 87th minute.

Skyfall at Dagenham

Skyfall at Dagenham

Leyton Orient 4 Carlisle United 1 — Today I went out to the charming borough of Leyton, which is near the Olympic Park, for this match in League One. Leyton has a relatively modern stadium — they seem to have built apartment buildings in the four corners of their ground to make additional use of their property. Some fans were able to simply sit on their balconies and take in the game! The outcome of this one was never really in doubt, as Leyton scored in the 31st, 45th, and 65th minutes (getting the Carlisle GK sent off on the last one) to keep the game well within their grasp. Fun fact! In the seven matches that I’ve attended, home teams are a sterling 5-0-2. Perhaps they should be paying me to attend.

Sun peeking out in Leyton. Notice the apartments at the corner of the pitch.

Sun peeking out in Leyton. Notice the apartments at the corner of the pitch.

I’m down to my last week of school here; two papers and three days of classes before I can head off to France etc. next week. There is no question that I have found studying abroad much more challenging than I expected coming in to it. Though I think I’ve made the most of my time here so far and learned from it, I’m looking forward to the chance to break my non-existent routine a bit and explore lots of new places. But first, I have to come up with some things to say about early medieval Europe. Cheers for now.

Broken

Hi all — the lack of recent updates can largely be blamed on the recent fatal heart attack suffered by my laptop. Much more challenging to work up entertaining legible entries on my iPad. A full report to come later in the week. Leaving for Paris etc one week from Thursday!

Soccer, law, and music

No time to waste, let’s get right into the blag!

  • Saturday was my visit to Craven Cottage in SW London, home of Fulham FC, to watch another soccer match. The most exciting part of this game was that Brek Shea, a 22-year-old American winger, made his debut appearance for visiting team Stoke City. America is perpetually struggling for respect as a soccer nation, and every player who makes it to the Premier League is an enormous opportunity for the national team. By a stroke of luck, Haley, Sylvia, and I were sitting right next to the Stoke supporters, who greeted Shea’s entrance to the game in the 25th minute with a U! S! A! chant — and another one when he forced a penalty in the 55th minute. However, that penalty was saved by Fulham, and a spectacular 45th minute goal from ex-Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov sealed a 1-0 victory for the home side. A great game to attend.

Just before kickoff

Just before kickoff

  • My history of Parliament class met at the UK Supreme Court on Wednesday. Judiciary duties used to be handled by the House of Lords, but fairly recently it was decided that a more American modern approach was needed and the Supreme Court was set up in 2009. It meets in the former Middlesex Guildhall, near Westminster Abbey and Parliament, a space that has been modernized to hold some courtrooms and a small exhibition in the basement about the history of the court. (My favorite bit was the “gift of friendship” given by the US Supreme Court — a tiny marble chunk of the Supreme Court building in DC.) We sat in on a case involving something called quantum meruit which was actively sleep-inducing. The court’s twelve justices (all addressed as “my Lord” or “my Lady”) sit in panels of five or seven to hear cases, and they peppered the attorney with questions about this case which I’m sure was very important but really was very hard to follow.

Most disappointingly, they did not wear robes and wigs in court, though these ceremonial robes are broken out occasionally

Most disappointingly, they did not wear robes and wigs in court, though these ceremonial robes are broken out occasionally

  • After this excitement, I met up with Haley — her last day of five in London — and we explored for a while. Sights seen include: Borough Market, HMS Belfast, the Globe, Millennium Bridge, St. Paul’s, Somerset House, the Eye, Parliament, and my dorm! (One of those things is not like the others.) We went out to dinner at a place called Nando’s, which specializes in chicken of the extraordinarily spicy variety. Pretty good. I’m glad I got a chance to show her around — definitely two months here has improved my capacity to act as a tour guide when necessary. She was also a good sport to take this picture of me:

My dad took a series of these "conehead" shots of my mom during their travels many years ago — trying to carry on the tradition!

My dad took a series of these “conehead” shots of my mom during their travels many years ago — trying to carry on the tradition!

  • Those of you who know me know that among the things I dislike are extremely loud noises, extremely crowded rooms, and heat of any type. However, I quite willingly put up with all three last night to check out a sold-out show by a “dream-folk” band called Mt. Wolf. They sound sort of like a more rocking version of the xx, using a wide variety of instruments — acoustic and electric guitar, acoustic and electronic drums, a string quartet, and keyboard all featured at one point or another in their set. Always exciting to become “hip” with the “youth culture.”

Flashing lights

Flashing lights

I think that’s probably all for the time being. Among the goals for the weekend: more football (hopefully Brentford vs. Scunthorpe), more Borough Market, new shoes, possibly another museum. Hard to believe that my trip to the mainland is just three weeks away. Hope everything is going well with all yall back in the States!