Wednesday June 28
This week’s Wednesday adventure was to Abbey Road Studios!
Our trip to the studios took longer than expected. This was due to the nonsensical fact that Abbey Road Studios is NOT located at the Abbey Road Tube station. I repeat: if you are ever looking to go to Abbey Road Studios DO NOT get off at the Abbey Road Tube station. If you do not take my advice and proceed to get off at the Abbey Road Tube stop, instead of the St. John’s Wood Station where the studios are actually located, you will be greeted by a large sign informing you that you have messed up and you will feel tired, sad, and annoyed, like we all did. After finally getting to the St. John’s Wood Station we headed to the notorious zebra crossing. We had heard that the road was still in use, but figured that not many drivers would actually use it since there are constantly tourists attempting to take pictures in the crossing. We were greatly mistaken. There were cars everywhere. It took around 20 minutes just for us to get individual pictures walking across the street as we tried to time it without any drivers getting angry at us for posing in the middle of the road. We weren’t even going to attempt recreating the famous Beatles album cover, but a group of guys from Notre Dame said one of them would risk their life standing in the middle of the road to take our picture if we did the same for them (shoutout to Susan for almost being hit like five times trying to take their pic).
Thursday June 29
On Thursday morning I ventured to the Tate Modern. I thought some of the exhibits were really cool and thought provoking while others were just plain weird. But that’s modern art for ya I guess. The view from the observation deck was of course stunning and the best part about it was that it was completely free! I really liked this quote about performance art that was featured in one of the exhibits. It put some of my feelings about the impact of theatre into words.After exploring the Tate Modern I walked along the Thames, past the Globe Theatre, and then to Borough Market for lunch.
That evening the film class went to see Baby Driver. There were a few extra tickets available and I immediately claimed one so I could see Ansel Elgort, along with other celebrities we had met on the big screen (for free!). The movie was absolutely incredible, (and I’m not just saying that because I met Ansel, or because he liked my Instagram post, or because when I tweeted him the picture above with the selfie we took together he followed me on Twitter) everyone agreed it was one of the best movies produced in a long time. I would highly recommend seeing it!
Friday June 30
Friday began our stay in Paris.After checking into our hostel, our first destination was the Musee D’orsay. We were given time to wander around the museum and stop in any exhibits that attracted our attention. Everything in the museum was super interesting and it would have been easy to spend a whole day in the Musee D’orsay alone. I really enjoyed seeing a bunch of artwork up-close that I had seen countless times in textbooks and online throughout my life. Then we took a stunning walk to the Lourve. Even though we were all exhausted from a day of traveling we were excited to go see the Mona Lisa. Once we got to the Lourve we spent a good amount of time taking pictures. It rained a ton while we were in Paris, so luckily we got there in time to take pictures right before the rain started coming down. Once we were inside, the super cool Art History professor took us around the museum and told us about some of the most famous works, (including the Mona Lisa!!) as well as some of her personal favorite pieces. That evening we went to my favorite restaurant out of all the places I’ve eaten abroad. A few people had heard about Refuges Des Fondues from prior JMU London students and I’m so glad some of us took their advice and went. The restaurant itself was quite the experience. There was broth fondue for meat and cheese fondue for bread and potatoes, as well as a selection of olives and cheeses for appetizers and an interesting marshmallow type thing for dessert. But everyone’s favorite part of the meal was the wine served out of baby bottles. Don’t ask my why the restaurant did this, but it was very strange, yet kinda fun in a weird way. Another awesome aspect of the restaurant was the walls, where it appeared thousands of people had scrawled their signature or left little phrases. We left our mark as “JMU 2019”. I had so much fun and laughed so hard the entire dinner with some of my fellow students and our faculty members!That night some of us decided to go see the Eiffel Tower lit up. We got there just in time to see the spectacular light show that happens every hour. Seeing it in real life was indescribable.
Saturday July 1
Saturday morning began with us standing in the pouring rain. We met one of our professors outside of Notre Dame where he began telling us all about the historic building. Then we waited in a line outside in the rain before we were able to go inside and look around. There were so many beautiful statues, windows, and other decor inside. Then we headed toward the Eiffel Tower, but as we were walking a torrential downpour began and the rain started coming at us sideways! Due to the rain we weren’t really able to take any pictures, which I was pretty bummed about.Then I did some window shopping in one of the high-end areas of Paris. It was really cool seeing this upscale area since the rest of Paris was a lot more crowded and dirty than I had envisioned. We also stopped by Pierre Hermè, a world-renowned macaroon shop with tons of flavor options.
That night we decided to go to the Eiffel Tower once again and pay to go to the top of it. It was a beautiful night out (it finally stopped raining for a bit!) and the view of the sunset as we waiting in line beneath the Tower was absolutely stunning. The elevator ride 905 feet upwards was a little nerve-racking since it went super fast and there were a ton of people crammed in one small space. It was freezing once we got to the top viewing level, but the view of all the city’s lights were absolutely stunning. We ended up staying in the tower until midnight because it was one of my friend’s twentieth birthday. We all started singing happy birthday to her in the Eiffel Tower as other people started to sing along with us. Then we got some late-night food since none of us had eaten and then went to the hostel and fell asleep super fast.
Sunday July 2
Sunday morning we attempted to tour the Catacombs, but the wait was over three hours long. (Pro tip: you can book tickets for the Catacombs online way in advance so you don’t have to wait in line as long once you get there).Due to the fact that we only had about five hours before we had to board the train to go back to London we decided not to wait in line and went to the Arc De Triomphe instead. We took some pictures there and then went on the hunt for some macaroons. We unintentionally came across the Avenue des Champs Elysées, the most famous shopping street in Paris. There we found some yummy oversized macaroons at a cute little bakery. There was also a giant triathlon happening in the city so we saw part of a parade as we walked down the street. We arrived back at the hostel a little bit before the other groups got back and as we walked through the door a few students said they were running down the street to get a huge baguette for only 99 cents. So I took off running with them and was able to have a whole baguette to enjoy on our journey back to London.
Monday July 3
Our first outing on Monday morning was to the Army museum. The museum had a really interesting and interactive exhibit about the media and the army. It featured a bunch of advertisements, products, and movies that the army was portrayed in. That evening we got to see Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour. This was the only musical we saw with our theatre class and it was absolutely incredible! It was about five Scottish private school girls that travel for a chorus concert one weekend. All the trouble they get into was hysterical to watch and the only actors in the entire show were the five young girls. Their voices were amazing and I left in complete awe of the whole show. After the show we went to Amorino for some rose-shaped gelato. I got mango and strawberry and it was perfectly refreshing treat to end the night.
Tuesday July 4
Our morning began with a trip to Notting Hill. Our first stop was to Cafe Diana. This cafe had photographs of the princess plastered all over the walls. The photographs of her with young Prince Harry and Prince William were all too adorable. Then we went on a guided tour around Notting Hill and learned about the history of the area. We walked around many of the neighborhoods and shopping areas. We ended in front of this painting that is believed to be done by the world-renowned graffiti artist, Banksy. I would really recommend checking out some of his work because I think he is super cool!
That evening, one of the faculty members hosted a Fourth of July celebration at his house. Eating some home-cooked food after almost two months abroad was especially enjoyable. Everyone sang songs and danced all night before lighting some sparklers outside. I’m sure all of our British neighbors loved us that night as we could be heard chanting “USA! USA! USA!” up and down the street. I found it really funny that one of my all-time favorite Fourth of July celebrations happened in the country we declared independence from!