Welcome


Welcome Friends,
If you are viewing this page, you are on my blog that I plan to use to document my journey here in Europe, more specifically London. I borrow my blog title from Christian author, Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. In this book,Warren provides insights on how to seek your own purpose, authorized by God, by examining your life over 40 days. I go on to say all this to point to the fact that I do indeed believe that this entire journey, as well as what I have gone through in life thus far, is in fact part of the plan that God has for my life. I cannot easily say what my purpose in life is yet, but I do feel that I am called to do great things. To say the least, I hope you all enjoy reading as I continue to post. Feel free to comment and let me know you are thinking of me, as I am surely thinking of you. Keep myself and my cohort in your prayers; we greatly appreciate it.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

My Visit to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

In the second week of classes, my class visited the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre along the Southbank of London. For those of you who do not know, this is only a replica of the original, standing only feet away from where the original stood. The only photo I have is this one I took from a boat tour I went on; there was no photography allowed in the theatre itself. 
What is most remarkable about this landmark is the process the construction, or should I say reconstruction, underwent to make sure it was as close to the original as possible.  The architects wanted those who visit the Globe in modern day to have the same experience as those of the 17th century.  With that said, the entire thing is made of wood, has narrow seats, and a thatch roof, even though the thatched roof is what made catch fire, forcing Shakespeare into retirement.  You will not find any nails holding the structure together; it is all wooden pegs as Shakespeare’s construction workers used.  Also, within the cement in between the bricks, there is a mixture of moss and horsehair that were also popular in construction during the time the original was built.
In case you are wondering, they do still hold performances here; it does not merely stand as a tourist’s maze.  In fact, while we were there we got to witness a cast rehearsing for their version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to be performed in front of school aged children. Also in the fashion of Shakespeare’s time, there is room for groundlings to stand and enjoy a play. During Shakespeare’s time, these would have been the people of lower class, who paid only a few pence to enjoy one of his productions—usually drunk. These are still the cheap “seats” if you want to go and enjoy a production at the globe. 
This season, in light of the Olympic Games being held here, they are actually going to be performing a bunch of Shakespearean plays in the languages of all the countries represented.  I wish I could go see a production, but I figure no point if you don’t know what they are saying. After all, Shakespeare always wrote to be heard, not necessarily seen.  Visit the Globe if you’re even in town.  If that isn’t your thing, there is plenty on the bank for you to enjoy; the water itself is beautiful.

The Foundling Museum

            Okay, I don’t mean to give you all a history lesson, but I thought the work that the Foundling Hospital did was quite cool.  All of this is from the notes I took in my journal, so it will be brief, but definitely worth reading. I actually visited the foundling museum around four weeks ago—I think.  Anyway, what does not escape my memory is the experience I had there.  To be truthful, so many of the smaller museums here in London, the ones many may over look and never hear about are the most moving. This one was suggested to me by one of my scholarship directors, Dr. Sroka.

During the 18th Century, over 1,000 babies per year were abandoned.  The Foundling Hospital’s mission was thus to provide a safe haven for these children who would otherwise die either in the hands of their poor mothers, starvation, or harsh weather conditions.  Thomas Coram, the founder of the hospital, petitioned to the queen for 20 years to get funding for such a ministry. Needless to say, he was granted funding and also had friends in high places to help.
Typically mothers who could not care for their children would bring their babies here, and be put into a lottery to determine if their babies would be taken in.  Basically there were three colored balls in a box that determined a child’s fate. One color, meant you were in (unless your child was diseased), another meant you went on the waiting list, the other meant you were denied.  The amount of work they did was remarkable—I cannot list it all here.  But, there was education and employment involved, parts of life these children would have otherwise been denied.  If you ever make it to London and have about an hour, I’d say it’s worth visiting.   

Theatre In Lndon

I am not one hundred percent sure how many theatres there are in London, but I have heard 120 and 140. Either way, theatre is a large part of the London culture and the number of them is upwards of 100.  It was something I was highly recommended to take part in while I was here, and now I understand why.  Thanks to suggestions from professors back home, and my class “Theatre in London,” which requires that we see a play each week, I have been to quite a few plays.  And with the semester only half way through, I will be attending more for both person enjoyment and for my course’s requirement. I, too recommend that anyone who visits London go to as many shows as they can.  I have enjoyed them all for different reasons, but A Long Day's Journey into Night was depressiong, though very well acted.   
The plays that I have already seen include:


A modern version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Eugene O’Neil’s Long Day's Journey Into Night


 An Arabian themed version of Frederico Garcia Lorca’s
The House of Bernarda Alba

Not for my class, but with other international students, the new West End musical, Jersey Boys

Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer
In honor of my grandfather, Singing in the Rain
Next week I am seeing:
Shakespeare’s King Lear and
Patrick Marber’s After Miss Julie

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

NOTE TO READERS

This blogging stuff is no joke, it takes forever to write and upload these photos. I ask that you stay tuned for more pictures from Paris and Denmark, as well as posts from around and about London and England. I'm behind--sorry. Thanks for reading.

Jeg leder efter Danmark (I'm looking for Denmark)

Denmark


In the 10th grade I was assigned a project on the social customs and ethics within Denmark for my Bioethics course.  Here it is, what, five years later and I got a chance to visit the country I had learned is the home of the happiest people in the world.  Sadly, my first day there in Copenhagen, I was not able to be among those people in the city who were cheerful and overjoyed. My planned accommodations were not at all what I was expecting, thus I ended up spending money to stay at two hostels.  However, all was not lost. Both hostels were very nice, with the second one I stayed at being the #1 rated five star hostel in Europe one year. Both were worth the little money they cost. I had planned on going to the theatre the first night, but when I got there the show had sold out for all three weeks it would be running. I was also very tired, sick with a cold from Paris, and I had just eaten.  I went to bed—first day a waste.  But enough whining about what went wrong—or right depending how you look at it. The next two days were awesome, and I left wishing I had more time.

The things below are not posted in any particular order; this is just a glimpse at many of the things you can see while you are in Copenhagen. I honestly wish I had more time.

Christiania is a local village where there are basically no rules.  They are an anarchic society of people whose values are to simply live freely in a community and do no harm to others. To describe them best I will just say they are hippies. The village has several “squats” which are houses that people apply to live in at little to no costs.  Mothers and children are first priority.  Perhaps what they are most famous for, especially for tourists, is there weed sales.  Don’t worry readers, I did not buy any. I didn’t even want t go.  However, there are booths upon booths that you can buy several kinds from, as long as you don’t look “suspicious.” There are also no pictures, phones, or running allowed once inside.  I actually did not take this photo, although this particular shot I could have gotten.



Tivoli is, from what my tour guide told me, the second oldest amusement park in the world.  It doesn’t compare in size to any theme park I’ve been to, but I do admire how it’s right in the middle of the city.  This is the entrance—it was right down the street from where I stayed, but closed for the winter.


This 7Eleven was formerly a bakery where the first of many fires in Denmark were started. The baker burned bread and as his shop caught fire, the wind blew the fire causing damage to two-thirds of the city.  He blamed his five year old son who really had nothing to do with it.  By the way, 7Eleven is everywhere in Copenhagen.


 
This statue is of the Famous Lure Blowers. Men with this job a long time ago would sound their instrument to warn Copenhagen and neighboring towns of Viking invasions—Denmark suffered quite a few.








Lesson on Language (in Danish):  Fart = Speed.  “Thus if you are driving anywhere in Denmark you may see a speedometer say: Your Fart is 40kmph.” Our tour guide, Colin was hilarious. The tour was free; all you do is tip at the end, based on what you think it was worth.  You can even leave in the middle of it, and you lose nothing.  It was worth staying on—I wish I had done it in Paris. To the left is Colin.

Christianborg Palace is unique because all the houses of parliament are in one place.  It is also built in the place where the 1st palace once stood. The palace burned down, was rebuilt, burned down again, and rebuilt again.  I got a chance to go in and see the Royal Rooms exhibit.  I cannot describe how cool it was to go in.  It is still a fully functional palace where they have royal engagements when they have to. It’s so pristine that you have to wear covers over your shoes while touring it. The worst part about it was that you could not take any photos, which is whack considering you have to pay to get in.  I googled pics of some of the rooms for your viewing pleasure.

The main table seats 50.
There are also tables along the walls, in front of the windows that can seat more. 









THE GREAT HALL
Used for entertaining, complete with all glass chandeliers from Venice,
marble floors, and on the walls hang tapestries given
to the queen for her 60th birthday.
Both thrones were made for the second Palace after the first one burned down.
When the second palace burned, they were able to save these thrones.



















Bishop Absalon: Warrior Archbishop and statesman, hence the battle axe in his hand. He fought because he was Christian and pagans kept burning down the city.  He had 27 Kids—odd for a Catholic priest and ended up converting many pagans when their gods did not kill him for pushing over their statues.



I forget what this tall building is called, but looking at my map I think it’s Nikolaj.  Either way, it is the oldest church in Copenhagen.  For a while it functioned as a fire house, and it was ordered that no building could be taller than it, so that fire men could see where fires were happening. 








Royal Opera House near H.C. Anderson's Street
Most famous for his fairy tales about Thumbelina and The Little Mermaid, now both Disney flicks, Hans Christian Anderson is Denmark’s most famous author. He was once an aspiring actor where he stayed at the Magasin de Nord across from The Royal Opera House.  The Magasin de Nord is now a department store. Across from a hotel that charges 3500/night.



This anchor commemorates 2,000 soldiers who burned their ships,
some of the dying in the process, rather than letting the Nazis take them.












Nyhavn, pronounced “Nu-hah-ven”, is perhaps what Denmark is most famous for. This is the part of town that you will see on any post cards here or anything else. It was once there main port for trade and commerce, thus causing it to be a red-light district for a short while.  As per my tour guide “Where there is a port, there are sailors. Where there were sailors, there were prostitutes.”  In the 1960s they reconstructed it to be more of a family friendly zone, inviting boat parking to fill the docks and make it more aesthetically appealing.


Also to be seen at Nyhavn and at other points in the town is the Changing of the Guard.  I saw it twice, the second time I follwed them.  They do this EVERYDAY at noon, well they reach Nyhavn at noon.
Check out this video, here they are at Ameiliaborg Palace


St. Anne’s Place is expensive neighborhood where you can find the home of the queen and her family.  They live in Ameiliaborg Palace situated right in the middle of the neighborhood and are said to be a really down to earth royal family. That is, they hang out with the locals.  This wasn’t meant to be the main palace, but it consists of four similar buildings that make a circle, and are all connected by underground tunnels.  One building houses the queen, the other the prince and his wife, one is a museum, and I forget what the other is used for.


About Queen Margrethe (Margaret) II: In her spare time she is an author and translator. In fact, she translated the Danish manuscript of The Lord of the Rings series. She also “smokes like a chimney,” as per my tour guides saying.



The newest opera house built in 2006 by the richest man in Denmark.  I forget his name, too.  Anyway he picked up the tab for this massive, modern structure that cost ¼ of a billion Euros to build. That’s $325,981,645.15 USD.   






               

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Last Train to Paris, or the First Bus

Our trip to Paris was quite the adventure.  It started off with what was almost a fight on the bus before we even had a chance to leave London. This one guy, who claims to be a black belt, and has pictures to prove it, was threatening two cousins who he continuously told to shut up, and even got a little physical with; it was crazy.  To save money we took the bus instead of the train and 8 hours later we were in Charles De Gaulle Airport  in Fance, hopping on a train into the city. 
Fresh off the train in, at St Michel Station we walked up the stairs and were greeted by Notre Dame.  This church is beautiful.  This is very much the case with a lot of the craftsmanship of churches in Europe, but something about this one was a bit more captivating.  

Our first night we went to a restaurant that I think was called the “Creperie Josselin.”  If that is not the name, I think it may be the style of crepe, or the part of France it was created.  Either way it was so good.  I went there two nights for dinner, the second one being the night I left.  I had one that had sausage, egg, cheese, and mushroom the first night. This was followed by my dessert crepe. This one was with Nutella and bananas.  The second dinner one I had was filled with spinach, goat cheese, and heavy cream. It was also very good. They all were.
Me and Monna
The second day, Saturday, We woke up early to get to the Louvre, the museum famous for the Monna Lisa, Venus de Milo, and a host of other works of art.  
Me and Venus de Milo






We walked up the Eiffel Tower that afternoon, and then went to Sacre Coeur after that.  You can look at the pictures and let those speak for themselves.  Needless to say it was all quite amazing. My legs didn’t start hurting until I got back home to London. We also went by the Moulin Rouge after dinner. The seats at the show are over 150.
Before we walked up





After we walked up. I was very relieved to be down.











Right before we walked all the way up to the second observation deck!

Sacre Coeur


Moulin Rouge:







The highlight of my last day was going to Pere Lachaise Cemetery.  This is the cemetery that houses the graves of many celebrities including, Chopin, James Morrison, and Oscar Wilde.  Oscar Wilde was my favorite, being that my grandfather named me after his book, The Picture of Dorian Grey. 










That afternoon we went to the Arc de Triomphe, and St. Paul’s Village, a Parisian shopping district.

 It is in St Paul’s where I had the second highlight of my day: I tired escargots, which are snails for those of you reading who do not know.  They were also good.  A little chewy, but good!


CREME BRULEE:

It was a great trip, but honestly at the beginning of the third day I was ready to be back in London.  I imagine this was because I was tried and had to do everything at such a fast pace.  I know for sure that when I return to Europe, Paris will be on the list. Vous remercie de lire ce billet de blog (Thank you for reading this blog post).