Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Globe, Jack the Ripper, Stonehenge, and...Bath?


Me and Cameron trying to make Kellen look like Stonehenge. Success.

I'll get to the Stonehenge stuff in a few. First let's talk about Monday.
Monday pretty much was amazing. I got up, helped with breakfast, and sat through the Shakespeare class I'm helping with. Then off to--for me at least--one of the most anticipated field trips of the program: The Globe. For those of you that are uncultured (I mean...not aware), the Globe is the name of the theatre where most of Shakespeare's works were performed (he was writer, actor, and shareholder). The Globe as it stands now is a re-make, roughly 100 meters away from where the original Globe stood. It can't be on the exact site because the Thames now covers the exact spot. Regardless of its unauthenticness (good word), the theatre is awesome. The stage sits about five and a half feet off the ground, the theatre holds around 3000, it's round, the joints are all idividually cut and everything used to hold the building up is wood (including the nails). I won't go in to too many other details, needless to say it's a site to behold. The worst news I've ever received is that there may not be any plays performed here until after we leave (it's an open-air theater and therefore doesn't like London winter weather). However, there may be a few things going on early in April (I will pray that there are). The Globe is still used today and remains one of the cheapest places in London to see a full-length Shakespeare production. Our guide was a younger dude and Shakespeare scholar--great guide. My camera was being stupid, so I will try to get my hands on some of the pics that other people took. Cam took one for me that has a great story. Basically, when they were collecting donations for the rebuild, the man in charge asked John Cleese and Christopher Palin (Monty Python actors, Cleese being my third favorite actors on earth--after Nicholas Cage and Christopher Walken) for money. Both of them agreed, and so they were informed that outside the front of the theater they would have tiles (roughly 2 feet squared) with their names on it. Anyways, Cleese is hilarious and so he told the man that called that he would give even more money if they promised to spell Christopher Palin's name wrong. So outside, John Cleese's tile is next to Christopher "Pallin"'s tile. Hahaha, I guess you just had to be there and know Cleese's work. After going through the theater there was an exhibit that we went to that showed the life of Shakespeare and the various stages of the Globe.

After getting back and helping make dinner, I decided it was high time to go on the Jack the Ripper walk. I ended up with about 10 other people (I had to pay half for Mary to get her to stop being a chicken), and we all headed off. It was about 7:30 pm (plenty of time for it to have gotten dark) when we got there and found our guide Donald. Donald had a rad accent, is the world's foremost expert on Jack the Ripper (he's written two books, one of I would have bought but forgot extra money), and knew all sorts of stuff. I haven't ever known much about Jack the Ripper, but those of you that know me well know that the macabre is my kind of thing (thus my obsession with Poe). A few of the girls weren't thrilled as we got deeper in to East London, but I was all about it. We visited the sites of all of the deaths (5 total), and Donald did a fantastic job of explaining the who, what, where, why, and all that jazz. Jack the Ripper is one sick dude, but you gotta admit that the boy was good--never got caught. Donald even gave us a good list of suspects to think about. We did have a run in with a group of idiot kids that threw some plastic bottles off of a roof at us and cussed up a storm, but we didn't meet any drunks, naked people, or mimes that Donald is used to seeing. So all in all, the Jack the Ripper walk is a must-do if you're in London.

End of Monday. Tuesday I woke up, helped with breakfast, took a jog through Hyde Park (I hate jogging but love that place), went to class, worked for a few hours, beat Katie Bruce in chess (correction: owned Katie Bruce in chess), read till I fell asleep, woke up with a few new Sharpie tattoos from Katie, Brit, and Mary, hung out w/Cam and Laura, slept.

Today (Wednesday) was a full-day field trip. Got up around 6am, packed a lunch, helped with breakfast, got on a bus (called a coach here...still a bus). First stop, Stonehenge. It's been snowing, so we figured it would be too muddy and messy to actually get to go touch the rocks. We were right. I still LOVED the place. I've found the idea of Stonehenge to be awesome for a long, long time and I've wanted to go to there for years. I was a little bummed I couldn't go lick it, but I didn't let that get me down. Terry (Dave's wife/the London Centre caretaker) gave me her audio tour because she had already been and heard me say how stoked I was to be there (love her) so I learned quite a bit: 1 - nobody knows how on earth they got the stones to where they are, becuase the rock was all cut from somewhere in Ireland; 2 - they also have no clue as to how they got the rocks to stand up, because many of them weigh over 35 tons, all of this was done over 4000 years ago, and man-power isn't likely; 3 - 1/3 of each of the stones is below ground, which is insane because they're pretty much massive. Anyways, we took a bunch of pictures...including simultaneous heel-clicking with Cameron, fake engagement pictures with Jenny, girly umbrella shots, and trying to pick Kellen and Katie Bruce up to make ourselves look like Stonehenge (Kellen, fail; Katie, success). The place was still green, a bit smaller than I had pictured it, and a great experience overall. No complaints here.

From Stonehenge we headed back on the bus (coach) to Salisbury Cathedral. I think St. Paul's was more majestic, but this one was most definitely cool. If my sources are correct, it's got the tallest steeple in England, measuring over 450 feet. Like so many other places here in London, there was scaffolding on a lot of the outside, but it was still beautiful. Inside the stained glass was to die for. Did any of you know I love stained glass? Well I do. It was everywhere here, with the best one being five panels of blue stained glass that held mostly-hidden depictions of the crucifixion, Christ's blood making it into the grail, the rooster that crowed during Peter's denial, and others. Our tour guide was very soft spoken and very nice. He also reminded me of the historian from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (you know...the one that gets slashed by a knight while he's telling the story? Golden).

Ate lunch out in the freezing, back on the bus, and on to Bath. Bath is a city built around a hotspring that was built over in 75 AD and used by the Romans. The water is still untreated (so you can't get in), but the exhibits are all built into the ruins. So we got to get right up next to the water, as well as walking around to look at where altars, foundations, stairs, and other parts of the Roman buildings are now preserved. It was quite cool. After looking at the hot springs we wandered over to Bath Abbey. After Salisbury Cathedral, this church didn't seem like it would be up to snuff, but oh my freaking gosh the stained glass was AMAZING. I walked in, saw it straight ahead, and just kinda wandered over to it in a trance. The church is still in use, so it was very quite and very reverent. I didn't have a vision or anything, but I could definitely feel that I was in a place of legitimate worship. There are very colorful windows on all sides of the cathdral, but the main wall is immense. I haven't seen stained glass in such vivid colors, the red especially caught my attention throughout the wall. It was magnificent, that's really the only word that works for it. I didn't look at anything else in the cathedral (it's not that spacious). I just stared at the glass. There were depictions of the angel's annunciation to Mary, the three wise men, Christ's birth, all three temptations, calling the apostles, calming the sea, the crucifixion (don't specifically remember the Resurrection or anything after that, but it definitely could have been up there. Either way, it was like nothing I've ever seen before and I wish we had had more time to stay there.

Ended our field trip heading to the assembly rooms a few streets up from the cathedral. Jane Austen writes about Bath in a number of novels, but specifically in Northanger Abbey, which is what we're reading in the Brit Lit class. Not gonna lie, the Ballroom, the Tea Room, and the Great Octagon were impressive, and I found myself wishing that I had a wig, and accent, a quartet, and some large-dress-wearing babes to dance with. So I just whistled classical music and pretended to be Collin Firth or whatever his name is.

Back on the bus, took Cam, Brittany, Kira, Jenny, Katie Bruce, Britin, Michelle, and Annie to the Thai buffet that I found earlier (SO good), and here we are. More school tomorrow, then Westminster Abbey on Friday. It's been a wonderful few days, and things here are rollin'.


Anonymous said...

Ok, for reals, we are the same person. Well, I cry more and am more sentimental. and our poetry is really different. but pretty much the same. EVIDENCE: when i went on my study abroad to wales, my favorite touristy thing was stonehenge. and i did get to touch it, and anders did lick it...we dare him. Also, next to one of the stones there was a diseased and dying bunny. evil pagan magic? i think so! i just have one correction: some of the stones are for sure from wales (the ones that are kind of cooler to the touch and called bluestones. so, not ireland. but that's ok.) also, we both have an obsession with poe. You know i took the poe class this past semester. and i totally owned it. i got 106 percent on the first test, 94 and 96 percent on each paper, and 100 percent on the final. and i never ever went to class bc i already knew everything we were talking about. owned. lol. also, in bath i hope you paid the small fee to drink the nasty water. its worth it. and i will be disappointed in you if you didnt. some cool facts about salisbury cathedral: it houses the best preserved copy (out of 4 total) of the original magna carta. i hope you looked at it. otherwise i will again be disappointed in you. also, the weight of the spire is making the stones bow. i hope your guide showed you that. lastly, when i went to the globe we got to see the merchant of venice (A-MAZING!). And we were groundlings, and we got there early, so we got to rest our chins ON THE STAGE. be jealous.

jessie said...

i visited your site n was good enough then othere site that i visited last month

study abroad

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